Bret Hart/Eric Wallack/Greg Segal/Peter Zolli - "Exodust"
From Aural Innovations #35 (January 2007)
Exodust is a 24 minute CDR-EP that brings together 4 veterans of the free-improv/homemade music underground with the intention of making progressive rock. The CD opens with the brief introductory "Antanas Lives!", before really taking off with "My Own Pet Whales". Fans of mid-70's King Crimson's live show improvisations will really dig this. The music is very much in that spirit, though Hart, Wallack, Segal and Zolli put their own unique stamp on the sound. "Planet Up in Smoke" is a fun Grateful Dead meets The Magic Band tune. And "Those Who Were When" is a nice spacey atmospheric piece with a great combo of guitar efx and wailing leads.
But the 9+ minute "Exodust" is the highlight of the set, starting off with a wonderfully odd mish-mash of raga styled psychedelia and freeform improvisation, all within a solid prog rock shell. Lots of nifty varied percussion combined with the guitar leads keeps things interesting and traveling down a number of paths. The quartet lay down a cool jamming groove too, the guitar tripping along and surrounded by spacey atmospherics. But though the continual groove maintains a sense of direction, the musicians manage to add lots of interesting pieces and layers, straddling the line between classic progressive and avant-garde. Lots of really good ideas here and all fleshed out very nicely. And it's important to note that these guys didn't just get together, crack open the beers and start jamming. All live in different parts of the U.S. and the tapes traveled from one to the next until all four had separately added their bits. Here's the explanation from Bret's Edge Surfing web site:
These five structured improvisations began in Bret Hart's studio in the South, where foundation tracks utilizing numerous instruments were recorded. Then Eric Wallack, in the Midwest, added his bass and Chapman Stick parts, which then traveled to the Pacific Northwest where Greg Segal added electric guitar and woodwinds. Things finally landed in New England, where drummer/percussionist, Peter Zolli, layed down his parts and did the final mix.
Having been immersed in the avant-garde free-improv scene for so long these guys are uninhibited about stretching out in all sorts of directions, ultimately occupying a space somewhere in the middle of the King Crimson and Rock in Opposition progressive rock axis. I hope to hear more of their Prog adventures.
For more information and to hear music from Exodust you can visit Bret Hart's Edge Surfing podcast site at: http://edge-surfing.podomatic.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz