Col. Bruce Hampton

Isles of Langerhan

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The Late Bronze Age accompanies Bruce Hampton on Isles of Langerhan, an early-'80s offering in the ongoing art prank that is Hampton's career and the second of the two discs the Bronze Age band would record with him. Hampton's landscape is here populated with sheer nonsense, about as far as he would ever get from the gospel/blues side he would indulge with the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Like many of his bands, the Late Bronze Age, especially given the presence of guitarist Ben Thornton, is a virtuoso outfit, as Hampton's bizarre proclamations are translated into flaming fusion runs. The melodies concocted by Thornton and band sound for all the world like updated versions of Glenn Phillips and Harold Kelling's sprawling guitar tornadoes in the Hampton Grease Band, Hampton's '60s group. Unfortunately, the guitarists here aren't given as much room to unfurl, but certainly blaze with the confidence that they are utter weirdos in the midst of a barren musical landscape. At the same time, the band also embraces some less tasteful approaches -- cheesy guitar effects and the like -- but Hampton usually saves the day. It's often unclear whether or not the group is parodying these production techniques or embracing them. This is certainly not the best place to begin exploring Hampton's body of work, but it's not a bad place to end up.

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