In 2009 An Endless Sporadic surprised many people with the release of their instrumental self-titled EP/CD: thirty-three minutes; pick your choice. Basically being a duo, consisting of Zach Kamins on guitars and keyboards and Andy Gentle on drums, the band was picked up by The Flower Kings and Karmakanic's Jonas Reingold after the release of a Fan CD in 2008. Being impressed he offered to play bass and entered his TFK buddy Roine Stolt to take care of the album's production. Now, a number of years later the successor of the title-less CD found its way to my desk. Since their debut, the core duo was declined to the one sole member, mastermind Zach Kamins, who was joined by a large number of guests on the 2016 release Magic Machine.
Where the debut could be placed, somewhere between LTE and an instrumental form of progressive rock, Zach chose to take a kind of a detour and come up with a more experimental style. Still the base is heavy progressive metal with a fusion sauce, but the addition of brass instruments and strings has a big impact on the new album's music. The heavy base of Zack, returning bass player Jonas Reingold and former Animals As Leaders drummer Navene-K shine on the opening track; The Departure, where the trio combine their power with gentle keyboard parts, nice strings, but remain to the roughness of a power trio. The title track; Magic Machine takes the atmosphere of a movie score and turns it into a strong progressive rock song, filled with tasteful bass parts and solos, strong keyboard parts that head towards the music of Kansas added with the freakiness of Frank Zappa. Seamlessly Galactic Tatric follows bearing Zappa's spirit to a new dimension and highlighting the amazing drumming of Navene-K and some stunning keyboard sections. Although Zach is highly regarded as a guitar player, the album does not really feel like a shred album. Sure, he is a true master on the guitar, but the keyboards have an equal massive part on Magic Machine and the aforementioned brass add that special touch to the music. Listen to the fine flute part during Finding The Falls; a song that leaves from a heavy start to a funky rhythmic Calexico referring bit, than taking off on an atmospheric, jazzy flute part, a more than brilliant Americana trumpet section of multi-instrumentalist Michael Lago Mellender and so returning to a heavy end for the song. The great thing about this song is the way everything wonderfully works together, ending up as an amazing track. The brass and strings during The Assembly are atmospheric, a musical soundscape that easily could be used for a Film Noir. At the end the power of the brass turns into a heavy section of the initial power trio, added with some nice electronics. Agile Descent is a jazzy, experimental tune with a cool Reingold bass line, acoustic guitars and a cool Wurlitzer electric piano. The violin and structured chaos at the end of the song are held together by some great drum patterns. One of the highlights is Sky Run; a slow starting, power-increasing track, the aforementioned incredible rhythm section lays down the base for Zach to excel over. Both guitar as well as keyboards sound brilliant; some Diethelm/ Famulari referring sounds can be found in the keyboards, but from the five minute mark a special guest takes over. Jordan Rudess first covers the piano, then a strong trademark synth solo before returning to the piano. The numerous moods and atmospheres during this song are just great. Rudess also lends his craftsmanship to the following Through The Fog, a darker song that turns from an atmospheric part with piano, to a strong progressive metal style part where Rudess exchanges licks on his synth with Zach's guitars. Roine Stolt adds his signature style of soloing to Sea Voyage, a reasonably smooth composition, adventurous and keyboard laden and perhaps paying tribute to TFK. The final track Impulse I is the perfect track that makes you push repeat, a very strong and powerful progressive rock instrumental with hints of fusion.
An Endless Sporadic definitely leaves its mark with this instrumental CD. The addition of a large range of varied instruments really does the trick, but still leaving enough space for the wonderful guitar of Zach Kamins. Magic Machine will appeal to instrumental freaks who love keyboards and guitars, as well as aficionados who like a more bombastic, atmospheric style with hunches of movie scores. It's an album that is brilliant for its diversity.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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