Due to the previous album release of Consider The Source, there was some scepticism, when the second and third part of the trilogy landed on my desk. World War Trio Part I (2014, see review) did not completely fulfil my expectations of what I was used to, when I was listening to CTS albums. With less than 25 minutes of music, the album was OK for me, no more no less; good but no real highlights. So a bit sceptical, but anxious both Part II as Part III were loaded in my computer, just to find out the albums lasted more than one hour each, but even more, the band absolutely succeeded in creating new interesting compositions, played with the passion I was used to. As we know Consider The Source is a US based trio that besides the traditional progressive fusion instruments guitar, bass and drums, play many obscure instruments from all over the world and embed those in their music. Key element of CTS' music has to be said is the sound of the fretless guitar that is the upper neck of Gabriel Marin's double neck guitar. Bass player John Ferrara handles the multi stringed bass as easily as a banjo bass or the ukulele bass. Drummer Jeff Mann not only limits himself to the traditional drum kit, but adds eastern percussion to the band's sound.
With those two parts of the trilogy, CTS definitely claims their spot as most interesting progressive fusion band there is and a new standard is created. Highlight of the albums, I think that would be a very hard thing to write about, as the albums both are high quality with a wide range of diversity in their compositions. Compositions that perhaps have focused more on the oriental musical aspects then to the Sci-Fi elements the band is famous for. Highlights was the keyword we were discussing; so let's start with the opener of Part II; Aquarians. Eight minutes of brilliancy; the strong solid groove by John's bass reminds me of Bryan Beller during the steady parts, but it's the guitar that blows your brain out, fretless soloing goes hand in hand with fierce melodies. The percussion parts ice the cake of the song as well as the slapped bass solo part. There is so much going on during, not only this song, you just have to keep on listening to the whole album without a break, afterwards you will need some time to let the music do its work to make you realize the perfection of the compositions. Another one: This Dubious Hour, a song that has acoustic elements as well as heavy progressive fusion parts and still has a memorable melody, riffs as well as a (borrowed) part of Rush. Based on a Uzbek dance rhythm One Hundred Thousand Fools definitely belongs to my favourites on the albums; traditional music taken to the modern world, but still paying respect to the original. Listen to the grooving bass lines and you will agree with me. If you are able to create a guitar sound as big as an orchestra, you definitely gain my respect, during You Are Obsolete this orchestrated sound is combined with Guthrie Govan's Aristocratic style of guitar playing. Brother Nature sees the same approach as Absence Of A Prominent Tooth, the use of those traditional instruments in a fusion style certainly works for me. The final composition of Part II shows the more emotional part of the band by a relaxed spherical song; 40% Gentleman, 60% Scholar close your eyes and enjoy.
The third part starts with A Monument To Compromise, a song that combines modern heavy melodies with a fake clarinet sound, produced on the guitar, followed by a furious outbreak of power in the form of a solo. During the three parts of So Say We All the band closely stays to the style they are known for, less oriental parts, but furious melodies and brilliant playing of all three members. More Than You'll Never Know is a composition that is a more of a melting pot of a wide variety of spheres, tastes and influences; Turkish, North American and Indian music are mixed with Seattle grunge from the nineties. I'll Fight For The Imp is like the first composition on Part II; powerful, virtuoso and just brilliant! CTS ability to combine Sudan style African music with a Vietnamese stringed instrument results in Tsim Sha Tsui; strange but nice. Like the previous CD, Part III closes with a more relaxed song, You Are Disappearing, which is filled with nice melodies and stunning solos.
Like I wrote before, Consider The Source claims its place at the top of the progressive fusion scene, with the variety of instruments and the absolutely succeeded experiments to embed those into their music. Tremendous craftsmanship and (re)writing outstanding songs makes World War Trio Part II and III a highlight for me.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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