Brand X

Moroccan Roll

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Morrocan Roll is not a step toward the rock & roll side of the fusion equation, but rather an experiment with Eastern sounds and softer textures that trades in the thunderstorms of their debut for rhythmically rich siroccos. Expanded to a quintet with the addition of percussionist Morris Pert, Brand X balances their arrangements with more equanimity, resulting in a subdued sound that is mesmerizing rather than arresting. The songs are written by individual members (their debut credited the band), but this doesn't yield the results you might expect: while Percy Jones' "Orbits" is essentially a showcase for the fretless bass, Lumley's "Disco Suicide" shares more with Frank Zappa than the artist's typically dreamy tones, and it's Phil Collins' "Why Should I Lend You Mine" that sounds most like the work of Lumley. The better compositions come from John Goodsall, including the opening "Sun in the Night" (featuring sitar and a smattering of vocals from Collins), the parched-sounding "Hate Zone," and the album-ending "Macrocosm." Jones' "Malaga Virgen" is another highlight, led by the artist's popping bass, delivered with a unique mix of restraint and explosive energy. Morrocan Roll is notable for a heightened sense of humor, from lighthearted liner notes to its everything but the kitchen sink ending. If the music is more spiritually informed than their flashy debut, the contemplative listener will find this brand of subdued fusion jazz equally rewarding.

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