It's a modernist's dream band, featuring venerable solo and session artists who are among the top pace-setters in progressive-rock. Here, touch guitarist, bassist Trey Gunn (King Crimson), guitarist Henry Kaiser and drummer Morgan Agren (Mats/Morgan Band) burn holes through solid steel walls and formulate an avant-garde spin on the roads previously traversed.
With Kaiser's signature reverse engineering techniques, super-speed licks and nasty distortion lines, the band packs a colossal punch, abetted by Agren's precision-oriented polyrhythmic grooves. Gunn is the glue via his corpulent bass parts, and punctual touch guitar work. Yet the artist's unbridled synergy and mark of invention are attributes that sustain gobs of interest throughout.
The trio engages in numerous semi-structured dialogues amid outlandish soloing jaunts. Kaiser inflicts harm on his guitar as he strenuously blends notes into submission via his unwieldy phrasings and phased-out legato lines. However, Agren and Gunn propose an ominous rhythmic element composed of odd-metrics, staggered flows and pounding beats.
Diversity is a key component, where the trio also engages in atmospherics and noise-shaping movements. Combined with a bit of cosmic shredding, they also render memorable hooks and yearning choruses, often countered by quirky deviations. However, the musicians turn the tide on the Delta blues piece "The Secret Handshake with Danger," where Kaiser's steel guitar voicings morph into a series of abstractions. Elsewhere, Agren's phenomenal cross-sticking patterns and pummeling backbeats provide a fluid backbone to the trio's power-packed gait. And on "The Last Guru," imagery of Darth Vader meeting King Crimson comes to fruition.
Simply stated, Invisible Rays is an eventful alignment of like-minded musical spirits and a standout pick for 2011. Vastly entertaining yet mind-bending in scope, the end results are supremely gratifying.