Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lost Tribe - 1994 "Soulfish"

Lost Tribe's provocative mix of jazz, funk, progressive rock, heavy metal, and hip-hop is well represented on this 1994 disc. There are moments during "It's Not What It Is" when the '80s rock stylings of Living Color come to mind. Other tracks, such as "Second Story" and "Fuzzy Logic," recall the frenetic, rap-influenced sound of early Steve Coleman and Five Elements. Guitarist Adam Rogers and saxophonist David Binney seem to be the resident metalheads -- witness Rogers' crushing "Steel Orchards" and Binney's avant-thrash composition "H." Former Five Elements guitarist David Gilmore joins Rogers throughout the disc, making for some hot dual guitar work. Bassist Fima Ephron lays down rap vocals on his own "Walkabout," as does drummer Ben Perowsky on his own, less convincing "Daze of Ol'." On a mellower note, "Room of Life" and "La Fontaine" feature a more harmonically colorful side of the band. All music.

The New York quintet Lost Tribe is typical of a new generation of fusion bands which have added hip-hop and funk-metal influences to the usual blend of jazz and rock. These younger musicians have failed, however, to solve the central problem of the fusion field--the tendency to emphasize technical virtuosity over heartfelt composition to the point where the music becomes a bloodless exercise. Lost Tribe's second release, Soulfish, is a case in point, for the five members (who have worked with the likes of Ronald Shannon Jackson, George Russell, Steve Coleman, and Rickie Lee Jones) are superb players one and all but seem incapable of writing a memorable composition. Adam Rogers in particular is notable for his ability to combine a Hendrixian guitar roar with post-bop solos, but his compositions "Whodunit" and "Steel Orchards" are shapeless vamps for jamming rather than real songs. Alto saxophonist David Binney has written two slower, moodier pieces, "Room of Life" and "La Fontaine," but they come uncomfortably close to the aural-wallpaper sound of new age. The rap production team, Rise Robots Rise, helped Lost Tribe create the hip-hop-flavored "Walkabout" and "Daze of Ol',".

A+ 5 stars. What to say.
Purchased this when it was released 20 years ago and very few hold up/get better like this one.
Hard hitting, like Mahavishnu and early, funky Sco even - more refined.
Skilled players and intelligent, mature composers.
NYC for sure, this could not have been conceived in Phoenix, Miami or Paris - no offense to either.
Rumors have it they are working together again, we can only hope! By LW.

 Track Listings

  1. Walkabout
  2. Whodunit
  3. It's Not What It Is
  4. Daze Of Ol'
  5. Room Of Life
  6. Steel Orchards
  7. La Fontaine (The Fountain)
  8. Second Story
  9. Planet Rock
  10. Fuzzy Logic
  11. H

Personnel:

Fima Ephron (vocals, piano, bass);
Ben Perowsky (vocals, piano, drums, percussion);
David Binney (alto, soprano & tenor saxophone, flute);
Adam Rogers (piano, guitar);
David Gilmore (guitar).

Additional personnel:

Benny Nitze (synthesizer, talking drum, background vocals);
Daniel Sadownick (percussion);
D.J. Nas Tee (scratches);
Tracey Amos (background vocals).

4 comments:

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  2. Just found your site on the net and it seems to become a very exciting journey into wonderful sound of fine fusion music.
    So thanks a lot for these gems, very much appreciated!
    Woody

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  3. Thank you. Thank you so mucho for all the great music.

    ReplyDelete