Austrian-born electric guitarist Alex Machacek is one of the young post-John Scofield/John McLaughlin/Allan Holdsworth performers whose melodic sense is in a phase of being developed. While he's beyond the noodling stage on this, his fourth album, one gets a sense that he's still a work in progress to find his clear and present voice, preferring to toy with sounds, voicings, and techniques that will serve his ideas better down the road. This live performance in Raleigh, NC, at the Lincoln Theatre is an exercise in that searching process, the guitarist teamed with drummer Jeff Sipe and electric bassist Neal Fountain. While certainly in the jam band area, one could mistake them for a quintessential power trio, but they are not there yet. Instead, Machacek and his mates are satisfied with elongating linear single lines stretched out over a ten-minute average until they slightly change up the mood. The more toned-down and prettier tracks seem to suit them, as the electrified improvisations simmer and at times explode, but rarely boil. The most interesting idea the group espouses collectively is during "Yoga for Cats 1," a spacy and soupy, deep and dark mood, followed by the pleasant "Neal's Fountain" in a traipse pulse, as Machacek's processed guitar is switched off on an alternate passage in shades of McLaughlin. The straight rock-funk of "Gem1" has noisy repeat phrases that meld into a jam, then mold the experiments into various sounds that are not necessarily musical. Synthesized sighing and a faux waltz identify "Pinchproof," while the end of the set has the band in a more sedate and even laid-back mood during "Along Came a Spider," crossing bar lines and offering a more melodic sense. "Put Me Back to Sleep" is an off-putting title that concludes the concert in lighter, acoustic modes with synthesizers as window dressing. The young bassist and drummer recall an embryonic Stanley Clarke and Tony Williams, respectively, minus over the top brashness and showy pyrotechnics, competent but undistinguished. Machacek is an interesting player whose music will advance over time into something distinctive; it's just not there yet.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos