While electric guitarist Holdsworth retains his signature ultra-legato, speed demon sound, he has added a couple of new wrinkles to this date. He's attempting to play some legitimate jazz standards, a couple of Joe Henderson tunes, and other sidebar items. He's also working with the synthaxe, a synthesizer controller, on three cuts. The most revelatory moments of the date come from the acoustic sounding digital piano of Gordon Beck, a true master whose be-bop chops and inventive solo work cements the legitimate jazz aesthetic into the fiber of this music. Electric bass guitarist Gary Willis (of Tribal Tech) and drummer Kirk Covington work pretty well together, and swing, albeit in a more rock/R&B orientation. Holdsworth has a predilection for stating melodies very briefly before immediately going into a solo. This is most evident during John Coltrane's "Countdown," where he tosses out the theme with nice chords, then rips into his distinctive flowing single 16th and 32nd note lines. Holdsworth is not all flash -- he comps frequently and tastefully, as on the well-played Henderson piece "Isotope," getting out of Beck's path as the pianist digs into an aggressive, melody drenched solo. A 6/8 take of "Norwegian Wood" is quite interesting, with Beck's modal piano chords and Holdsworth's guitar melody working in opposing keys, adopting a sound closer to John Abercrombie. The leader skates around the melody of "How Deep Is the Ocean," with Beck proving himself a superior, cliche-free improviser reharmonizing the changes. Synth dominates the trumped up, phony take of Django Reinhardt's "Nuages," while a saving bass-led "Very Early" (Bill Evans piece) in waltz tempo has Beck shining on his sped-up improv from a slower introductory pace. Time and time again on this date he proves to be the true star. The remaining tracks are Beck's piano-driven, rather Pat Metheny-esque contemporary Southwest landscape hard swinger "San Marcos," and the synthaxe-oriented, three-note vamp of the title cut, with a more patiently constructed guitar solo at the beginning. Holdsworth is a speed freak, once and always, who cannot be tamed -- nor would his fans want him to. His multilayered, frenetic style is what fascinates his audience, but he is showing a need to calm down at times, and adopt different sounds aside from the single crystalline entity for which he is known.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos