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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SENSITIVE CHAOS: Closer to Home (2021)

Updated: May 11, 2021

The result is an album of electronic textures set to the rhythms of the world and our lives

1 Fauna Funk Fusion 9:25

2 Snow Laughing Matter 9:04

3 Fort Hamilton Parkway - Prospect Park 2:35

4 Backyard Limbo 8:56

5 Cosmic Tune-up 0:59

6 Cosmic Orchestra 6:04

7 Fast Driving Open Road 15:27

8 Closer to Home 9:24

9 As Night Unfolds 8:11

10 Watching Embers Glow 7:34

11 Kimono My Bliss 30:08

(CD/DDL 107:51) (V.F.)

(Electronic Jazz, Ambient)

Sensitive Chaos really hadn't stopped as such. The Walking a Beautiful World episode took a lot of energy, maybe a little too much, from Jim Combs. And this time he will approach CLOSER TO HOME differently. In the past, every SC album was based on spontaneous improvisation sessions and/or public appearances by Jim alone. Here, he decided to conquer the parks and bars of Atlanta with guitarist/bassist Ryan Taylor and Mitchell Sosebee on percussions. These captured improvisation sessions were brought back in studio to be further developed with the help of other musicians. A long process in this time of pandemic. And there was a lot of music. The result is a double CD of 108 minutes where the purely electronic side finds its roots in the last third of the album. We can easily switch from electronic jazz to world beats on electronic textures and good big rock with blues accents, always under electronic textures. Minimalist textures that inspire a dozen musicians playing more than one instrument to lay down their harmonies and solos in never too long musical spirals. We also find this music without borders and an ambient music of a beauty to embrace the pre-sleep.

A guitar in a style of tearful blues and a bass thinking it's a double bass, Fauna Funk Fusion indulges in a handful of hand percussions in an openness that seeks to profile its true nature. In a festive vision, the music clings to all of its elements to create a world music texture with guitar effects that sound like elephant barks and other sonic extravaganzas that highlight the talents of Brian Donohoe on various wind instruments and Josie Quick on violin. Ryan P. Taylor is, as always, very effective on guitar, his bass play is quite awesome too, on this track living on an intense percussive fauna. The solos are called to change instruments while the beat always maintains its pace. We are in an electronic Jazz zone where the musical dynamism is anchored in a dense structure. The feeling that our ears are confronted with an ensemble of 20 musicians is not wrong. The only track composed in studio; Snow Laughing Matter starts with a more electronic vision. The synth and keyboard weave a circular texture where riffs and tinkling balls play on contrasts and nuances. The bass is greedy by accentuating its presence which pushes the title towards a texture of Jazz with a Brian Donohoe in full shape blowing us its airs of tenor saxophone. Lively and catchy, the music evolves to caress another form of circular music under the stars where it is easy to imagine good synth solos. The sounds of this track are really something here. Fort Hamilton Parkway - Prospect Park is a field recording session done by Jim. Ditto for Cosmic Tune-up. Backyard Limbo is pure Sensitive Chaos with a minimalist rotational structure where various tones graft and disappear. On first, the acoustic guitar welcomes the circular movement of this xylophone which charmed me so much during my encounters with the various bands of Jim Combs. The chords will always be present, having a more discreet role in order to welcome the various solos of an overflowing list of guests. Cosmic Orchestra lives up to its title with a stroboscopic electronic structure that supports solos by Brian Donohoe.

Fast Driving Open Road is a big track here that starts with a vision of Electronica well planted in a very good percussion playing. Our friend Paul Nagle contributes on this track, playing synth and Soma Pipe. The rhythm is very catchy with sax solos on the bouncy palette of a good funky bass that will come to make its solo. This rhythmic carousel turning at a good speed anchors a bouncy minimalist rhythm with more electronic tricks and especially with an excellent communication between the percussionists and the bass player. We notice a beautiful line of piano intervening in the most ethereal moment of this title which caresses a good semi-ambient phase before returning in a more spasmodic structure. Its last 3 minutes are explosive with a structure as entraining as the rhythms of joy of the New Orleans' Mardi Gras. The piano still leaves us in our dreams when the first sighs of Closer to Home reach our ears. It's a spacey slow beat with an incredible bass as sensual as Brian Good's weeping soprano sax. We have reached the ambient side of CLOSER TO HOME. Ambient and very intense with the violin that catches us identifying the impact of the synthesizer on this track whose guitar riffs and distraught saxophone solos bring us to this glittering bed of arpeggios in a brief dance on a xylophone tune playing at different levels. As Night Unfolds continues to unfold its musical banner like an allegorical merry-go-round made to deposit solos from Brian Donohoe and violin tears from Josie Quick. A very good track! Watching Embers Glow is not outdone. An ambient track that sticks its synth layers in a way to trace a long gliding flight leading us to look at a starry night. Kimono My Bliss is a long atmospheric track that found its roots in a virtual show shared on Facebook as part of Kimono My House during the 2020 pandemic. It's a mass of slowly swirling sounds with percussive clanking effects and winding synth waves that bring a form of serenity to it. Despite its slowness, this long 30-minute track begins to radiate intensity around the 15-minute mark. Arpeggios dance around, sculpting an evasive melody that solidifies with a well-chiseled keyboard sculpt.

Thus, the attached loops having made the happiness of my ears, it is with the same pleasure that I traversed the 108 minutes of CLOSER TO HOME. This title has more than one reason and that of a first concert that Jim Combs saw was Grand Funk Railroad and the title Closer to Home being one of his favorites is the one that best describes the ambiences of this album made of various improvised performances that Sensitive Chaos brought home. The result is an album of electronic textures set to the rhythms of the world and of our lives. In times of pandemic, it is the most beautiful festive music to put between the ears.

Sylvain Lupari (May 10th, 2021) *****

Available at Sensitive Chaos Bandcamp

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