Saturday, March 3, 2018

Jennifer Batten - 2997 "Momentum"

Jennifer Batten's Tribal Rage: Momentum is the second studio album by guitarist Jennifer Batten, released on August 5, 1997 through East West Records and reissued in June 2008 through Lion Music.

Tribal Rage is Jennifer Batten on guitars, guitar synth, keys, talk box, and dentist drill guitar, Ricky Wolking on bass (fretted and non), talk box, and other bizzare sound manipulations, with Glen Sobel doing drums and percussion. And what is all this fuss over Batten about?

She is amazingly fluid, so many tricks up her sleeve, so many voicings, techniques, and sheer bombast that you are overwhelmed with what torture and delicate touch she lays on a guitar. Slapping, tapping, bending, pulling off, hammer ons, slides — and with both hands! Throwing in a Whammy pedal when all her hands are too busy, she then creates so much wailing, swooping, and mutiple harmonics, that your aural dynamic sense nears overload. The effect is one steady onslaught of unique sounds you thought guitarists could only offer in tidbits, in certain moments, for lead breaks, at song intros or outros. Yet Batten constructs a whole CD’s worth of magical moments of a guitar doing things you rarely hear. She goes beyond Vai’s insane excursions and tops it off by tipping her hat and then running past Satriani’s finer weirdness.

This lady is an artist crafting a whole new dimension of guitar sounds, weaving it all together into song, and best of all it works. Her music is not endless backflips or clowning around — Batten hears another land’s strange echoes and offers a curiously interesting reply. With her Tribal Rage crew at her side a world of wonder unfolds. Seven quality cuts ranging from 7:10 to 9:33 let the whole crew stretch. There is some seriously cool bass work and severely challenging percussion happening here as well.

Batten has toured with big names like Jeff Beck and Michael Jackson. So what does Jeff Beck think of her playing? Beck says, “Incredible stuff, very impressive. She’s very dedicated. I just see her in her little house somewhere, doing nothing else. Because you can’t get that good unless you do.” I have to agree.

As guitar fans would easily recognize Holdsworth’s, Torn’s, or Rypdal’s guitar voice— Batten’s flexible-axe voice is a clear signature. I must say I’ve never heard anyone do anything quite like Batten’s continuous stream of note-bending, tapping, swells, controlled feedback, harmonics, and lightning-fast riffs. Prepare to enter into another dimension of guitar where elasticity is the word.

“Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage – Momentum” CD was a labour of love which was developed over a period of several years. “Momentum” is a hybrid of rock and very exotic sounds, including African percussion, Australian didgeridoo, Caribbean steel drums and Scottish bag pipes all wrapped up in a inviting album of diverse influences and sounds.

Looking back on the album’s creation Jennifer comments, “Glen Sobel, Ricky Wolking and I set out to make this a rich sonic journey for ourselves and the listener. We wanted to take them around the globe and included a lot of elements from different cultures. We spent a lot of hours developing, rehearsing and jamming in Glen’s mother’s shoe closet. You couldn’t fit more than the 3 of us and our equipment in there, but the price was right. We set out to be as open minded and creative as possible”.

A really astonishing work from a female guitar slinger who accompanied Jeff Beck and Michael Jackson on world tours back in the day. Her fellow musicians: Ricky Wolking on bass and Glen Sobel on drums and percussion are nothing short of jaw dropping when faced with some demanding roles. If you're into first rate guitar work with plenty of speed, harmonics, fresh, original ideas and the ability to see them to sizzling fruition, this album will be one that you whip out and say to your friends, "Check this out!

Jeff Beck was once quoted as being shocked when he saw Ms. Batten in person for the first time. To wit: "...I expected someone who was introverted and did nothing but practice all the time, because you'd have to do nothing but practice all the time to be that good!!!". Amen to that observation. I have followed with a passion her 2-handed techniques from her days as a GP magazine columnist. I got my 1st taste of what it could sound like from one of her GIT teaching tapes. NEVER could I dream that the amalgamation of her composition skills and technique (i.e., her total artistry) could be so beautifully, powerfully devistating as reflected on this and her other 2 CDs (5-stars for the lot of them). Just stunning stuff. Simply put, if anyone wants to hear a true guitar visionary apply her musical gift and craft in a spellbinding way - buy the CD(s) - be silent - just listen and absorb (sit down if you can - but you'll likely be too energized to allow it)! Who should know brilliance better than the maestro Jeff Beck; he is, he said she is, and the resultant truth is most obvious.

Track listing:

1. "Wodaabe Dancer" 8:30
2. "Elephant Stomp" 7:10
3. "Zulu Wedding" 9:30
4. "Scottsman in the Carribean" 8:57
5. "The Swarm" 9:19
6. "Glow" 8:45
7. "Unplug This" 9:34

Total length: 61:45

Personnel:

Jennifer Batten – guitar, guitar synthesizer, keyboard, talk box, background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Glen Sobel – drums, percussion
Ricky Wolking – bass, banjo, talk box, background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Chris Tervitt – spoken vocals (track 4)
Sean Wiggins – spoken vocals (track 6), background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Benny Collins – spoken vocals (track 7)
Bret Helm – background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Janis Massey – background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Sylmarian Pygmee choir – background vocals (tracks 1, 4)

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