Label: Tzadik, 2017
Lineup - Daniel Rosenboom: trumpet; Jake Vossler: guitar; Richard Giddens: bass; Aaron McLendon: drums.
Blending musical genres to sound unique is an art. Despite commonly practiced nowadays, only the most skillful artists have the privilege of being truly called innovators, and that is the case with the Burning Ghosts, an L.A.-based fiery quartet that aims at today’s world injustices by verging on electric fusion genius to impress. Led by trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom, who soars in several glorious solo sections, the band features a massive rhythm section composed of Jake Vossler on guitars, Richard Giddens on bass, and Aaron McLendon on drums.
Following the well-received self-titled debut album, released last year on the trumpeter’s label Orenda Records, Reclamation sets the bar even higher, captivating with a musical approach whose muscle, inspiration, intensity, and responsiveness have opened the doors of John Zorn’s record label, Tzadik.
The first track, “FTOF”, erupts with the drumming endurance and incendiary beat stresses of McLendon, whose actions synchronize impressively with Rosenboom’s articulated phrases. The punky distortion spilled out of Vossler’s frantic guitar strokes creates a propitious scenario for elliptical trumpet runs, which, despite boisterous, encompasses moments of sheer melody and even funky groove at some point. It’s legit to think of a wild crossing between avant-jazz and prog-rock.
Like a cavernous heavy metal symphony, “Harbinger” is shrouded in a much darker brume, opening with jagged bowed bass as the primal foundation and quickly adding unruly, ultra-fast drumming and lots of electric noise. This is what you have when the jazz-metal of Otomo Yoshihide meets with the esoteric darkness of Harriet Tubman and the noisy guitar slashes of Black Sabbath.
Still dark, yet beautifully textured with sparse harmonies and precise snare drum rudiments, which confers it the shape of an unhurried march, “The War Machine” stands between Cuong Vu and Dave Douglas's High Risk ensemble. It features a vociferous guitar solo infested with ultrasonic hammer-ons and hot licks.
Embracing a 3/4 time signature that periodically flips to a 4/4, the striding “Radicals” contains an eloquent, catchy bass solo that made my ears rejoice. It boasts an intoxicating funk-infused metal à-la Rage Against the Machine.
Another great example of eclecticism is given with “Betrayal”, where the amalgam of colorful sounds involves lofty unisons, rock pulses, Eastern melodies, and authoritative bass flows that are seamlessly transferred to the following tune, “Gaslight”, acquiring a jazz swinging flux.
If “Zero Hour” deals with concurrent doses of playfulness and eeriness while evolving from atmospheric to cacophonous, “Revolution” initially recalls the grunge of Nirvana, employing as much trailblazing revolt as tangy political elucidation.
If you’re the adventurous type, Burning Ghosts will make you spin with the immense force of their underground volleys. I trust this band will have all the attention they deserve to keep protesting with this quality.
01 - FTOF ► 03 - The War Machine ► 04 - Radicals