The Electric Wellspring Music Co-Op (Loadz/A.M.P. Records/Lunasolace Productions 2001)
Mr. Metalhead - "Revenge/Transition" (Lunasolace Productions 2001)
From Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)
The Electric Wellspring Music Co-Op (EWMC) is a quartet consisting of Mick Polich on guitars, keyboards, bass, and drum programs, Frank Anelich on guitars, Andy Zellers on bass, and Mike Gill on ambient guitars. On some tracks the band have a jamming Allman Brothers sound, though it's jazzier and highly ethereal. There's lots of tasteful guitar work that strikes me as a blend of Manuel Göttsching and Duane Allman. The promo sheet states that the musicians intentionally blend rock, jazz, space and trance elements, and I'd say they've succeeded in this regard. The music is enjoyable and loaded with good guitar ideas, and though the band doesn't stray too far from it's path they do occasionally take interesting detours. One segment had an ambient Magma or Present feel, if you can imagine either of those powerhouses being ambient. I even hear shades of Frippoid soundscape styled King Crimson at times.
I found tracks 4 and 5 (there are no song titles) to be the highlights of the set. Track 4 gets into heavier rock territory... I'll call it blues rocking jazz metal. There's some gorgeously tasty guitar soloing and the music as a whole sounds like avant jazzy hardcore. Kind of like a team up between Fred Frith and Robert Fripp. It's tough to describe but this is a pretty hot tune. On track 5 the band sets an acidic psychedelic groove, with one guitar playing a harsh wailing sound and another kicking out a shimmering cosmic mantra. At one point the keyboards give the music a symphonic sound and help to create a dark atmospheric backdrop to the grinding psychedelic feel. Unfortunately this doesn't last long as they soon settle back into the ambient jazz groove that we've heard much of already.
In summary, the EWMC do an excellent job of cross pollinating styles to create enjoyable improv guitar music. The problem is that the musicians have a tendency to meander a bit without direction. Also, the guitars are too often buried in the mix while the bass stands front and center. And the programmed drums frequently get in the way, resulting in a mechanical feel to what is otherwise a fluid floating jam. Still, I think these guys are really on to something so it would be nice to hear all these great ideas fleshed out and developed a bit more.
Mr. Metalhead is a very different project, though it does seem to include all the members of EWMC except Andy Zellers. It's starts with a short guitar track that opens with trippy guitars but soon launches into a metallic grind. I started to detect a pattern as the next track opens with a dark machine shop drone that once again serves as a buildup to what is actually a metal tune. Excellent guitars on this one. Prog metal fans would dig this.... except for those damn programmed drums. Speedy complex guitar patterns culminate in a drifting acoustic guitar climax. "Final Transmission" is another short track that sounds like the part in the sci movie where all the alien ships are gathering and preparing to launch the attack on Earth. At 8 minutes, the longest track is "A Meeting Between Influences". This too sounds like it would fit perfectly in a sci fi flick. Tension builds throughout the track, and I liked the diverse guitar sounds, both screaming and atmospheric. Then in the final 2 minutes it blasts off into a full metal tune with a symphonic backdrop. This should have been the beginning of a whole new section of the track, not just the final moments.
The final three tracks are from Anelich and Gill's band Rotting Souls, apparently from the early 90's. The first, a re-recording of a older Rotting Souls tune ("Invulnerable Creation"), is one of my favorite tracks on the CD, being something of a speed metal tune but with lots of interesting and continually shifting guitar work. The last two are original Rotting Souls tracks recorded in 1990, which show that the boys have clearly grown in leaps and bounds as guitarists over the years. Growling angry vocals, that I can always do without, were a trademark of the Rotting Souls if these three tracks are any indication.
Stylistically I tend to like the kind of music heard on EWMC better than Metal. But in this case I was more impressed with the metal these guys have created. Call it prog metal, technical metal, whatever you want. There's some good stuff here. I'd be interested to hear some longer tracks as the band has shown a sense of theme and development that cries out for Act II, Act II, etc.
For more information you can email Frank Anelich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact via snail mail c/o Frank Anelich; 100 Green Meadows Dr West #D; Gahana, OH 43230.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz