Guru Guru

Dance of the Flames

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The sound on Guru Guru's sixth studio album is still deeply drenched in psychedelic rock, but it is significant because of the introduction of jazz-rock and funk that never left the band's sound after this album. With the band still a power trio, the new sound can be attributed to the influence of new guitarist Houschang Nejadepour, who had been deeply under the influence of both John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix. He replaced the more rhythmically and melodically engaging Ax Genrich. From track one, "Dagobert Duck's 100th Birthday," the driving wah-wah guitar, flipped-out soloing, and hypnotic funk bassline reveal the sound of a band in transition. Psychedelia returns in the next cut, "The Girl from Hirschhorn," featuring acoustic guitars and the precise rim-shot snare work of Mani Neumeier. The guitar work quickly becomes electric with full-on fiery soloing following the labyrinthine melodic interlude that serves as the tune's head. Texture, bird sounds, acoustic guitars, and vocals don't enter the picture until six minutes in. The interesting event for the album was the inclusion of four Nejadepour compositions, beginning with "The Day of Timestop," where the flip-out overdrive of jazz-rock permeates the entire proceeding. It's all guitar flailing, with killer rhythm section work from Neumeier and bassist Hans Hartmann. The only trouble is that Nejadepour sounds almost exactly like McLaughlin and the band like a stripped-down Mahavishnu Orchestra. This follows the drenched-in-fusion title track, "God's Endless Love for Men," the official closer complete with the trademark dynamic stops and starts of Mahavishnu. Other cuts include the truly amazing "Samba das Rosas" by Nejadepour, where he reflects the influence of Ralph Towner in his 12-string playing. The ensemble engagement on "Rallulli," by Neumeier, is the most satisfying moment here, as exotic percussion textures and jagged acoustic bass and guitar find their way into the beat and then drop out of it, leaving Neumeier the middle section to work his astonishing percussion skills -- the beautiful track ends with the sound of a toilet flushing! Flawed but compelling, this is an outside beauty.

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