Brian Auger

Search Party

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Of all Brian Auger's recordings, Search Party may be the most aptly titled of them all. Recorded in San Francisco between 1977 and 1981, Search Party is a perfect example of the restlessness of Brian Auger at the turn of the two decades. On the one hand, his embrace of new keyboard technology made many things possible. Auger was capable of sounding like the keyboardist and a large horn section all by himself. As is evidenced here, his struggle was to embrace the new advances and utilize them as fully as possible without them swallowing his work whole. He walks that tightrope like Karl Wallenda. With the exception of the deep, funky fusion freak-out that is "Red Alert," Auger wrote virtually everything here. His compositions ramble from one side of the sonic spectrum to another. On "Sea of Tranquility," his three-chord intro that weaves in the bassline just ahead of the beat for a languid, shimmering effect is contrasted with the elegant, rhythmic fury of "Planet Earth Calling," and the sparse, Weather Report-like grooves in "Voyager 3." Speaking of this latter track (whose riff had been an Auger trademark for a decade by then), it's amazing to see the accolades showered on Weather Report for their innovation, when Auger was there so much earlier and so much deeper. This cut is just one example. This may be an exercise in restlessness, but clearly, Auger was never more focused on finding the right grooves than he was here.

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