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Live...Baked Potato

Cosmosquad - Live...Baked Potato ©2001 Marmaduke
1. Sheer Drama
2. Fat, Mean & Nasty
3. El Perro Vaila
4. I.N.S. Conspiracy
5. Road To Tanzania
6. Chinese Eyes
7. My Guitar Gently Screams
8. Creepy Spider Pt.2
9. Jam For Jason
10. In Loving Memory
11. Journey Through Life
12. Creepy Spider Pt.1
13. Funk N' Eh!
14. Red Eye Romp

Cosmosquad, led by guitarist Jeff Kollman, is one of the last remaining instrumental rock outfits tearing up the Los Angeles area with unabashedly virtuosic guitar, bass and drums, and this live album, recorded at the famous Baked Potato club, amply demonstrates why: the music is good. While all three instrumentalists in Cosmosquad can certainly shred up a storm and play tight unisons like possessed Siamese triplets, the band is not a conglomeration of idiot savants (unlike, say, Planet X) whose considerable virtuosic skills seem to prevent the musicians from writing compelling music. Cosmosquad simply knows how to write a tune or two and play it with the conviction of a cat chewing on a telephone cord.

No frilly shirts or hyperspeed minor harmonic arpeggios here: Cosmosquad plays instrumental rock, not Bach'n'roll. But this ain't AC/DC: the compositions are melodic ("Journey Through Life"), varied, well-constructed and memorable ("Road to Tanzania"), and the band's performance and stage banter are refreshingly free of gimmicks and posturing. The overall sound is enormous: each instrument is captured and mixed perfectly, and the sparse use of pre-recorded backing tracks during the live performance gives the recording a big-production feel while retaining the spontaneity of a live show. The track list is a varied selection of Cosmosquad and solo Jeff Kollman tunes, with an emphasis on rocking songs, a hefty dose of funky funkiness, and a satisfying helping of guitar-geek antics ("Creepy Spider", "I.N.S. Conspiracy"). The band is ultra tight and everyone in the room is evidently having a great time.

If your taste favors the rocking side of the instrumental guitar spectrum, you owe it to yourself to check out this excellent live recording.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 06/2004

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Cosmosquad - Squadrophenia ©2002 Marmaduke
1. Creepy Spider
2. Jam For Jason
3. Road To Tanzania/Tribal Trance
4. Winter In Innisfail
5. In Loving Memory
6. Creepy Spider Part II
7. Sea Broth
8. Godzilla's Revenge
9. Cauldron Of Evil
10. Chinese Eyes
11. Funk N'Eh
12. Tribal Trance (Reprise)

Cosmosquad is an instrumental rock/metal/fusion trio comprised of pedigreed musicians (Jeff Kollman, Shane Gaalaas and Barry Sparks) whose past and current credits include stints with Yngwie Malmsteen, Glenn Hughes, Dokken, Uli Jon Roth, and Artension's John West. As these associations suggest, their idiom of choice is fast, furious, and virtuosic; but of the kind that susses the best out of 1980s instrumental excesses and leaves the silliness at the door.

The music is very melodic and structured instrumental rock/metal with some blues and big-band influences in the vein of 1990s American post-shred rock (i.e., more like Kollman's early solo material, Kevin Chown, Gary Hoey and Darren Housholder, and less like Kotzen and Howe). Solo sections are predictably present and abundant, but never at the expense of truly melodic verses and choruses. The hooks are catchy and some of the songs are instantly memorable ("Winter in Innisfail", "Creepy Spider").

For those who followed guitarist Kollman's career and solo albums in the 1990s, this album will sound somewhat familiar, as Kollman's fluid and inspired lines are recognizably there, and they sound better than ever. His playing is often fast but always "follow-able" and understandable, and the bass and drum fills never get in the way of the music. As a special treat, guest solos by two of instrumental guitar's most exciting exponents, Chris Poland and Vinnie Moore, add some stylistic and sonic variety to a couple of tracks.

The interplay between the musicians is tight and exciting, and their extensive live experience together shines through the more improvisational numbers ("Creepy Spider Part II"). The "old-style" production is warm and just dry enough to make the listener feel the drumheads' pounce and the speakers' flutter.

With this supremely enjoyable record, Cosmoquad brings a significant contribution to the post-shred instrumental rock genre. If their studio performance is any indication of their live show (which I am inclined to believe is true), a Cosmoquad gig promises to be a thoroughly fun and fulfilling experience, and I can't wait to catch one. These cats seem to seize every opportunity to play Hollywood clubs (the Baked Potato in particular), so I strongly suggest keeping an eye on the LA Weekly if you're in the area.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 07/2002

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Acid Test

Cosmosquad - Acid Test ©2007 Marmaduke
1. Numena
2. The Spy Who Ate Her
3. Lubitorium
4. Bedbucket
5. Goathead
6. Hindenberg
7. The Long Walk Goodbye
8. Swink
9. Grossalicious

Cosmosquad plies their trade in a tragically underpopulated sub-branch of the instrumental guitar family--the rock power trio. Sure, there are gobs of three-piece outfits out there, but Cosmosquad is actually a band, rather than a vehicle for a guitar player or drummer's aspirations to subjugate the universe with their virtuosity. They're also resolutely rock, complete with cowbell, Les Pauls, wah-wah pedals, chorus-and-verse tunes, and melodies. They just happen to lack a singer.

Cosmosquad's last record came out several years ago, and their baked-potato-eating fans were beginning to get impatient. They won't be disappointed. Acid Test is an excellent new record with memorable songs, sparse, real trio arrangements, tight production and superb, live-sounding instrument tones from all players (check out the million-dollar vintage tones coming out of Kollman's amp in "Swink", or the incredibly live-sounding drums in "Numena", where you may as well be sitting in the studio control room as the guys are cutting the track).

The songs are typical Cosmosquad (no big departure from their signature sound here) with an extra pinch of detuned heaviness ("Numena"). The band alternates between intros, riffs, melodic heads, solos and interludes very fluidly and naturally, with tight interplay and tasteful displays of instrumental prowess. Even the required Beck-ian ballad "The Long Walk Goodbye" (which sounds a lot like Gary Hoey's "Fade to Blue", mostly because of its standard rock-ballad chord progression) manages to avoid cheese almost completely, and can be listened to in public with the pride and smugness of a person of taste and distinction who was into Cosmosquad way before they got really big and famous.

Well done, boys.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 11/2007

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