Brian Ellis

The Silver Creature

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Brian Ellis' soundscapes on the Silver Creature are one part electronica and one part free-flight experimental jazz. (Imagine, if you can, a sort of Dntel meets Sun Ra amalgam.) Sometimes he's clearly more heavy on the psychedelic/jazz end of things, as on the trippy, mind-expanding and gorgeous "Para Ti." "Say" is an electronica-fused slice of fusion jazz that drums up recollections of Weather Report, with its funk-jazz attack. But what really sets this San Diego recording artist apart from the pack is his virtuosity. He is only partly reliant upon programs and samples, and to flesh out his vision he plays a striking variety of instruments, from guitar to keys to Peruvian pan pipes to sitar to a whole bunch of stuff in between those diverse points. This album might be lost on purist fans of electronica, as the sophisticated music here doesn't have the elliptical feel of many electronica tracks, but comes off more like modern jazz compositions -- that is, very calculated structures within which there are a lot of improvised and surprising turns and touches. But then again, sometimes Ellis breaks even that mold, such as on "Night Trails," wherein he builds a sort of "electronic world music" atop jazzy, almost tribalistic rhythms. Ellis proves himself to be a daring and original talent on the Silver Creature, and this is a hypnotic pleasure that yields up new evidence of his rare talent with every listen.

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