The Aristocrats -
Tres Caballeros

(CD 2015, 58:00, Boing! BM00007 )

The tracks:
  1- Stupid 7(3:52)
  2- Jack's Back(6:06)
  3- Texas Crazypants(5:19)
  4- ZZ Top(5:14)
  5- Pig's Day Off(6:04)
  6- Smuggler's Corridor(8:11)
  7- Pressure Relief(6:56)
  8- The Kentucky Meat Shower(4:48)
  9- Through The Flower(11:26)

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Instrumental trio The Aristocrats deserve all the respect in the world, after two highly acclaimed studio albums and three; including the secret Osaka gig album, live ones, the band has now released their third studio effort since the band got together in 2010. As most of you will know, besides The Aristocrats, all three members are very active, accompanying other prominent musicians like Joe Satriani, Mike Keneally and Steven Wilson. Both guitarist Guthrie Govan as well as drummer Marco Minnemann choose to record and tour with their own band over the planned tour they could do with Steven Wilson, this indicates how important and serious this band is for them. Bass player Bryan Beller returned from touring with his buddy Minnemann, just to find himself in a recording studio to make sure this new album; Tres Caballeros will be available in the stores before the band hits the road again for another world wide tour.

The music on Tres Caballeros is showing new elements for The Aristocrats, but in the same time the sound of the songs is recognizable. Minnemann's explosive drumming, sudden outbursts of energy are accompanied by odd tempo patterns, creating an interesting base for a lot of their compositions. Compositions that are equally divided by the three members; each musician wrote three songs for the album. The Minnemann compositions; Stupid 7, ZZ Top and Pressure Relief are technically challenging, with a lot of changes and mood swings and as it seems written from a technical point of view, just to see how his fellow band members react to his structures. Both Guthrie Govan as well as Bryan Beller have added a blend of Americana and Country music to The Aristocrats sound, emphasizing the albums theme. So are Govan's contributions; Jack's Back, Pig's Day Off and The Kentucky Meat Shower perfect showcases of country laden fusion. Influenced by Albert Lee, Eric Johnson and the instrumental work of Brad Paisley, but like I wrote, always with a twist and heavily drenched in fusion. Beller's contributions; Texas Crazypants , Smuggler's Corridor and Through The Flower also have a solid country rock feel, but here the songs do have a more heavy side to them. Nevertheless with Through The Flower, he brings the blues to life, in an impressive aristocratic way.

I guess after the two previous impressive albums, The Aristocrats can rely on a solid fan base. One half instrumental and fusion fans, the other because of the progressive rock element in their music. With Tres Caballeros highlighting the country element, which always has been just beneath the surface on the previous albums, The Aristocrats will gain more new friends, with different musical backgrounds. I am curious which elements will find their way to The Aristocrats music in the future.

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

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