Mahogany Frog

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Mahogany Frog is a raucous jazz-rock fusion ensemble that holds several influences from the fertile '70s when that music was enthusiastically new. Electric guitars and keyboards dominate their sound, as does a 4/4 beat occasionally dipping into different time signatures. Recorded in Winnipeg and mixed in Montreal, this assumedly Canadian outfit take cues from icons of the bygone era, attempt to re-fuse this music into a contemporary mold, and are not far off from the original precept. While their name bears resemblance to Canadian Jimi Hendrix devotee electric guitarist Frank Marino and his group Mahogany Rush, the parallel inference is coincidental. The front cover art, with keyboards springing like golden browned bread from a souped-up, plugged-in, vacuum tubed toaster might give some idea of where the band's old but new heart lies. Hard rock heavy metal prelude "G.M.F.T.P.O." is only an opening salvo of guts and glory, for the following track, "T-Tigers & Toasters," is an extended, complex, and evolving treatise on low level voices, space sounds, prog and underground rock, synths and pretty piano, Farfisa organ, stomp out rhythms, and Soft Machine overtones all in a row. The combo tunes "You're Meshugah!" and "I Am Not Your Sugar!" have a garage rock feel with long tones, a drum workout and lockstep, deliberate, guitar oriented flash. "Last Standing at Fisher Farm" is dense, thrashy, and regal à la Emerson, Lake & Palmer, while a minimalist line not unlike something Terry Riley would conjure identifies "Demon Jigging Spoon," accented by jungle drums and a Frank Zappa-type angularity. The most definitive fusion piece "Lady X O.C. & Shield Jaguar" is the most melodic, unison leaning, playful, and multi-instrumental track, a delightful mix of impish qualities stemming from the '70s Canterbury sound, American jazz, and ethnic sources. The album concludes with a more introspective harbor/lighthouse motif on "Loveset," with buzzsaw underpinnings, bird sounds, repeat keyboard lines, and clarion trumpet. Hopefully the many comparative descriptors and similarities are not off-putting for a listener who might be interested in Mahogany Frog. As ungainly, unwieldy, and chameleonic as their name, they also aspire to a much higher level of art rock than many current contemporary ensembles.

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