Pat Metheny Group / Pat Metheny

Imaginary Day

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More than ever, the Pat Metheny Group is into creating thick, exotic, electronic sonic landscapes, and Imaginary Day goes even further out on the cutting edges of technology and global influences than its predecessors. The floating Metheny group signature is often present but with radically reworked textures, and Brazil seems to be off his international itinerary, replaced by whiffs of repetitive Iranian folk music, Balinese gamelan music, and other global influences. Indeed, Metheny only sounds something like his familiar soft-focused self on "A Story Within the Story," playing what amounts to a fine hard bop solo, and the song-like "Across the Sky." At all other times, he expands his sonic palette on various guitar synthesizers and newly minted guitar mutations, at one point assigning an entire solo piece, "Into the Dream," to the 42-string "pikasso guitar," which sounds like a glittering African zither. "The Roots of Coincidence" is a total departure for the group, a gleefully hard-edged, out-and-out rock piece with thrash metal and techno-pop episodes joined by abrupt jump cuts. Along with his core lineup of Lyle Mays, Steve Rodby, and Paul Wertico, Metheny also includes the duo of multi-instrumentalists Mark Ledford and David Blamires adding various horns and things, and four top-line percussionists -- Mino Cinelu, Dave Samuels, Glen Velez, and Don Alias -- replacing departing member Armando Marcal. Through all the experiments, the Metheny Group's music remains uplifting, intelligent, and always accessible to the casual and attentive ear in the late '90s, even as it becomes more portentous. The "words" on the cover art and booklet are written in some kind of strange Esperanto alphabet, with symbols and objects replacing each letter, but there are enough translations in plain English to get you through.

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