Somewhere In This Universe Somebody Hits A Drum is the latest release from multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Yuval Ron, in this outing fronting up as a solo headliner, rather than using the moniker of his more usual accomplices, the Residents Of The Future. This particular venture, three years in the making features a stellar lineup, including, most eye-catchingly Marco Minnemann in the drum chair. It is worth commenting from the outset that although this has been issued as a solo project, with Ron leading on guitar duties, it is far from a vanity project, and it is fair to say that no-one on this recording turned up to make up the numbers. The ensemble he has gathered together has an extensive pedigree in jazz, free-form and experimental music, and they suit Ron's purposes perfectly.
And what a recording it is. Six tracks worth of dense, virtuoso, cinematic-jazz-prog-rock with an overarching futuristic time and space travelling vibe, all expertly delivered with a surprising and welcome degree of humour. If that sounds like something to light your rockets, then you will love this, as I did from start to end. The opening title track starts off sounding like a pastiche of the soundtrack to a lost episode of Star Trek, complete with celestial vocal and some space yodelling (and who isn't up for a bit of space yodelling?) and then takes off before you can say, “We have lift off!” as Ron, and keyboardist Matt Paull (Loving The Alien - of course! And many others) trade riffs, interspersed with deft work from Minnemann and Roberto Badoglio (Beyond Turbines) on bass. Of course this piece ends with the drum banging. So far so idiosyncratic (and there's nothing wrong with that). What follows is an object lesson in how it's done, dazzling runs, mind-bending fills, galloping cadences and joyous extended improvisations. I found this album nothing short of engaging from beginning to end. Every single musician is at the top of the game and it's an intense game that never lets up. Whatever adventure it is that these guys are on it is exhilarating. How they maintain the power and passion towards the end of Wifi In Emerald City is quite extraordinary. No wonder the opening of The Discovery Of Phoebe finds Ron and Badoglio in particular in more lyrical mood, while still finding space for some coruscating runs. I don't need to tell you about Minnemann's drum work, but I was particularly struck by how expressive and sensitive his playing is on these pieces. What I am grasping at saying is that whatever it was that impelled Ron to team up with this group of musicians, it works, because they all seem supremely well suited to each other, and four such talented musicians forming such a harmonious whole is a rare thing and is to be celebrated.
Never having been exposed to this artist previously, I have to say that this astonishing album left me grinning from ear to ear. Given that the first time I listened to it was on a Friday afternoon trip on the M62 (it's a horrible road in the north of England that rapidly turns into Europe's biggest car park that time every week), that is no mean feat, I can assure you. If you haven't heard of these musicians before (I'll admit with the exception of you-know-who, I hadn't) but have been tempted by the star name, then if top class jazz infused instrumental prog with a touch of pretty much everything else including humour and oddness are the sort of thing you crave, then jump on this space trip. In short, I have no hesitation in heartily recommending a good dose of this album to banish the humdrum from your life.
***** Andrew Cottrell
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