Guarneri Underground

Wander This World

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No one can accuse Guarneri Underground of a lack of adventure. Not many groups would be able to comfortably swing from the plain bizarre "Life Is Full of Surprises" to the African-inflected "Garagajiya" and then the East India-meets-Celtic mélange of "Om Asatoma Sad Gamaya," while also managing to be happily straight Celtic on "Liquid Silver." That they can do this is all to their credit, since it's apparent from the word go that they're all excellent musicians (violinist Jeffrey Sick is a standout, but full credit to the solid rhythm section, too), but there are times when it seems like they're trying to be a bit too eclectic, when "Pami Music" doesn't quite have the authentic West African swing in the rhythm, for example. But when they give a good instrumental workout, as on the title cut, everything can be forgiven. Beth Quist is a very mannered singer, but she's used sparingly, since the overall focus here is on the instruments (that said, Sick's spoken vocal on "Tarot (True Story)" is unusual too, but effective). It's daring to close with a rock classic, but they tackle an almost ten-minute, very credible version of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" that captures the song's essence without any slavish imitation.

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