Peter Ashby - "Distrubances in the Ether"
(Dynamite Vision 2007, SAM 8)
From Aural Innovations #38 (January 2008)
The 16 tracks on Distrubances in the Ether are like a study in jazz…. Free-jazz, jazz rock, prog-jazz, and various difficult to describe blends of jazz and other influences. The CD opens with a brief trippy lysgeric intro, before launching into the cool avant-jazz vibe of "Intrinsic". "Intractable" is similar but more composed, while still retaining an exploratory feel. Nice guitar and keyboard interplay. The promo sheet makes reference to Hatfield & the North influences, and there is a Canterbury-ish jazz-rock feel to the music, though Ashby alternates between composed music and a more freeform improvisational style. At times it sounds like Zappa trying his hand at the Canterbury bands style, if you can imagine that. "Embers" is my favorite of these tracks, having a 70s prog-jazz sound, though Ashby's sense of adventure takes the music in unexpected directions.
Among the other standout tracks is "Intransigent", a spastic jazz jam lead by frenetic piano. HIGH energy! Ditto for "Piano Piece 1" (and 2), though it's more of a classical style with jazz influences. And "Two (basses) for T" is a prog-jazz piece that's like a cross between Canterbury and the more avant-garde Rock in Opposition bands. Ashby plays all the instruments himself - guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, piano - with the exception of saxophone contributions on four tracks by his Dynamite Vision/Falling A Records partner, Barry Lamb. My favorite of these tracks is "Reprimand", which starts with an old time Coltrane feel, but soon veers off into some very cool freaky out-jazz territory. This might well be my favorite song of the set. Many of the tracks blend seamlessly into one another, making for an extended, multi-themed jazz/rock/progressive journey, though there are lots of contrasting transitional bits that keep things interesting throughout.
For more information and to hear music you can visit the Peter Ashby Myspace page at: http://www.myspace.com/peterashby.
Visit the Dynamite Vision web site at: http://www.dynamitevision.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz