The trio format is perhaps the most daunting formation in music. The spotlight
shines a little brighter on each member in concert and in the studio. Each member
has more responsibility than usual. Raisinhill
is a young band that is definitely up to the task, judging from the strength
of their self-titled debut CD.
the instrumentation befits a jazz sound, Raisinhill definitely culls their sonic
stash from a much wider swath of influences. Guitarist John Kasiewicz
lends a wealth of compositional and improvisational substance, having studied
under atonal composer Ernie Stires (who also taught Trey Anastasio). Upright
bassist Brian Anderson studied jazz bass performance in college, and
is proficient at plucking with his fingers and with a bow. Drummer Jay Bond
attended Loyola University where he studied under the great Johnny Vidacovich.
All three proudly display their pedigrees through careful dynamics and fluid
musicianship on this CD.
This music demands your attention, but on the right night it can slip unnoticed
into your cortex where it lingers until you find yourself humming a melody you
don't remember hearing. That is what keeps the listener coming back for more.
Endearing melodies reminiscent of another guitar-led trio, The
Slip, literally drift, soar, dash, and bounce from your speakers. Kasiewicz
possesses an undeniably Anastasio-like control over the direction that the music
moves. The opening crash of “Nameless” kicks the CD off on a hydro-gliding
freefall that quickly moves through various sections of varying composition
before returning majestically to the main riff. It’s apparent that these
are not off-the-cuff jams. The band’s sound is firmly rooted in song but
still has an underlying current of outer space. Latin beats, space rock, and
insistent techno-style breaks make track one a lot to digest. “V.S.S.”
is a slightly foreboding tune that displays elements of balls-out rock, which
contrasts with the next tune, “The Ridge.” This is a patient, understated
song for several minutes before it explodes into a triumphant blaze of stratospheric
guitar and road-crushing bass.
are several short interludes between songs, like the 28-second techno-spasm
“Jokes” that glues the atmospherics of “The Ridge” to
the effervescent swoop of “The Road Song.” This band is better at
achieving extremely heady atmospheres than any trio I have heard. Rather than
operating at separate levels, Raisinhill moves together with careful grace and
respect. “Soul Jive” finds the band, particularly Kasiewicz, operating
in a classic Scofield jazz mode as unified melodic passages alternate with drum
breaks and rocked-out workouts. By this point of the album, it is apparent that
Raisinhill’s cinematic approach is the result of a truly group effort.
You can hear it in the way Kasiewicz languidly drifts his creations along a
bass line, in the way that the sound grows from Bond’s steadfast high
hat and snare drum, and in the way that Anderson cascades his bass notes around
the other members. Entire songs have been crafted from much less than Raisinhill
creates on the minute-long “She Likes Me,” which gives way to the
classic brick-and-mortar style intro of “Maker’s Mark.” The
band rides Anderson’s frantic, Primus-like bass into atonal jazz/rock
Wistful, powerful, ambient, jazzy, and sweeping – this CD is all of these
words and then some. It is the sound of three highly skilled players having
a very thought-provoking and vibrant conversation. Eavesdropping is highly encouraged!
Go See Live Music!