Heru Avenger - "New Aeon"
(Initiates International 1998, CD001)
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
Now here's an interesting disc. Krautrock cosmiche meets jazz fusion meets Frank Zappa. Is that an odd combo? Heru Avenger is essentially the solo project of John Basil who plays guitars, bass, and synthesizers, with drum kit assistance from Craig Teigen. The CD consists of four instrumental tracks all in the 15 plus minute range that cover all these influences to produce a cosmic and often fiery brew.
"Neteru 2000" begins with Basil soloing along like Zappa or McLaughlin to a solid fusion rhythm and Hawkwind galore style synths. He maintains this groove for while until shifting to an Ash Ra/Amon Düül style space exploration. The music develops well and while Basil is clearly capable of being of major shred king on the guitar he doesn't wear out the listener with relentless flash. Rather, the focus is on developing his musical themes and the electronics are just as much, and perhaps more, of a focal point as the guitar.
"Theban Dawn" starts off as a 70's Miles Davis or Mahavishnu fusion piece with a good bit of funk behind it. Of course the synths keep the whole thing in the cosmos and even sounds a lot like Alien Planetscapes. It has that same free jazz feel while clearly maintaining a space identity. Basil goes into an extended synth exploration that returns to the full band sound fusion jam for the finale.
A pattern is starting to develop as we move into "Giza Now". Like the previous tracks it starts as a fusion jam with nice guitar work and astral synths. Actually this one grooves along like that throughout the whole track finishing off with an easy going synth jam. Finally, "Priestess Of Nu" begins as the most straightforward jazz of the disc, though the synths are just as prevalent as they are on the previous tracks. It then goes into one of the more psychedelic moments on the disc as multiple synths lines combat with one another and the drummer goes off on a mad jam of his own. Basil shifts gears yet again and goes into a Hawkwind space jam that still retains the jazz elements that define the whole of this CD. Again Basil finishes with an extended synth freakout
Heru Avenger gets a thumbs up for doing something a little different and doing it well. Spacerockers who dig Miles Davis, early Krautrock, and Alien Planetscapes fans will really like this.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz
Holy handgrenades, Batman! This bloody disc is hot! To be honest, I shouldn't really be reviewing this CD as the music gets heavily into the type of experimental jazz of which I'm woefully ignorant, but after a couple listens now, there's no doubt that this is one of the very best albums I've heard in a long time. I've hardly unearthed a thing about John Basil, the pan-instrumental genius, or his partner in crime Craig Teigen on drums. I've come to the weak conclusion that they're based in California, but that's all I know. The label is brand new (notice the catalogue number) and has yet to produce an on-line site. But I did manage to locate this brief but accurate description of Heru Avenger, so I'll go ahead and nick it for my own: a "trans-ambient inter-stellar get-down." Yeah, I like that.
"New Aeon" is made up of four very long compositions (over an hour of music), that are at times ambient/electronic excursions with synths and oscillators ablaze (with more entropy than your average Silver Apples tune), but then pure kick-ass jazz improv guitar for as long as you can take it. The whole thing could really be one single piece, so titles are pretty meaningless. That certainly doesn't mean it all sounds the same though. And once you start groovin' to the music, you seriously just can't stop yourself until it's over. That's all I want to say about Heru Avenger for now, lest I say something blatantly naive. Our AI friend Doug Walker should know a thing or two about this sort of music, as his Alien Planetscapes combo are experts in this same sort of cosmic freak-out jazz-rock. I'd like to say something erudite about Miles Davis' muse now, but I simply don't know a damn thing about it.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson