Friday, 12 February 2010

Jonas Hellborg - Art Metal 2007

Genre: Fusion, Metal - Jazz
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 2007
Label: Bardo Records

01. Muthucutpor (Hellborg/Selvaganesh/Eklundh)
02. Manirambha (Hellborg/Selvaganesh/Eklundh)
03. Nataraja (Hellborg/Selvaganesh)
04. Solitude (Hellborg/Selvaganesh)
05. The Three Princes of Serendip (Hellborg/Selvaganesh)
06. Round Metal Hat (Hellborg/Selvaganesh/Eklundh)
07. Vyakhyan - kar (Hellborg)
08. Art Metal (Hellborg/Selvaganesh/Eklundh)

Review by Richard Heath

This continues in the tradition of the experimental fusions that Hellborg started his solo career off in the late 80's with numerous DEM Records releases, where very little seems off-limits to Hellborg wrt musical cross-pollenation. In particular, the very heavy jazz fusion of 'e' (predating Niacin by several years), and Shining Path's 'No Other Worlds', and of course more recently the Indo jazz fusion of 'Icon', 'Paris', 'Kali's Son' etc., are the precursors to 'Art Meta'l, although clearly the music isn't stuck in the 90's. Anders Johansson continues to impress being one of the most intelligent metal drummers around, and again he demonstrating great sympathy with percussionists, particularly those using eastern rhythms, (i.e. as previously heard on his album 'Red Shift'). And I have to say a welcome back to Jens Johansson - great to hear him away from Stratovarious and being pushed.
I have to admit this record has needed a second hearing for me to appreciate its subleties. With my first session in found a recording that started with (brash but) intelligent jazz metal (indeed semi-math rock in parts). However, I was hard pressed to hear its Indian side at the start, and instead that became far mor evident as it moved through to its later tracks, when I found the Indian influences became increasingly strong and equally weighted. However, with the second hearing and I realised the Indian rhythms and the structuring of tunes are more obvious from the very start. This is a record that will need several more hearings for me to more fully appreciate it, but already its complexity of arrangement, the use of light and heavy, the mix of east and west, abrupt change in song, tell me 'Art Metal' maintains Hellborg (and Co.) usual high standard of expermental jazz fusion albums - and indeed the album title is fairly accurate! This is an album that is most strongly recommended to Hellborg fans and especially those into metal jazz which does something new and special.
As an important footnote, I think having seen the intruction DVD, 'The Gateway to Rhythm' by John McLaughlin and S. Ganesh Vinayakram, the information there has provided me with some
considerable insights into what Hellborg and Selvaganash are doing in the company of proven metal rock masters of the Johansson brothers and Mattias IA Eklundh. ALso recommended as an introduction to Indian music.

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