She-Level - s/t (Recorded in 2002 and hopefully soon to be released)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
She-Level is a quartet based in Seattle, Washington that play an all instrumental and creatively composed brand of progressive rock. The band consists of Arran McInnis on guitars, keyboards and machines, Leif Sherman Curtis on guitars keyboards and machines, and drum duties were split between Kirk Jamieson and Andrew McInnis. The focal point of the music is the dual guitars of McInnis and Curtis, both excellent musicians who complement each other in voice and style. The music is firmly rock based, though little hints of jazz sometimes crop up, and I was often reminded of the Fripp/Belew combo (though King Crimson is really not an analogy for She Level's music). The band can play thundering rock or can be steadily melodic, and even in more easy paced moments the guitars are playing sophisticated structures that are keenly focused on making their musical statement and are never perceived as flash. Most of the tracks are in the 2-4 minute range, with only a few stretching out to 5 or 6 minutes. But She-Level isn't about jamming or thematic development. Rather, they make concise statements that say all the band need to in a short time. I also liked the spacey transitional bits that cropped up from time to time. The music doesn't vary a whole lot from track to track, but the power of the band comes from the solid communication between the two guitarists. My favorite track is the spacey and exhaustively titled "Woodmen with axes, dryad-killers with knives, and nightingale-vexers with scalpels and scissors". Yet the band really seem to be at their best when a potent rolling bass and drums provide a rock solid base upon which the guitarists can lay down their thought provoking compositions. Both McInnis and Curtis are credited with keyboards, though the guitar is the front and center instrument on most of the album. Overall, this is a very good set of instrumental progressive rock. The album was supposed to be released in 2003 on ObtuseMule Records but the label apparently apparently went under, so contact the band release info.
For more information you can email She-Level at: email@example.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o She-Level; 1632 17th Ave; Seattle, WA 98122.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz