Addition By Subtraction

McGill/Manring/Stevens - Addition By Subtraction ©2001 Free Electric Sound/Laser's Edge
1. Zimparty
2. We Are Not Amused
3. KVB Liar
4. The Execution Of Veit
5. The Voyage Of St. Brendan/Abbot Of Clonfert
6. Sil
7. Addition By Subtraction
8. Vicodin Shuffle
9. Euzkadi
10. Conflict Resolution
11. Purging Mendel's Beasts
12. In-A-Gadda DaVinci
13. Four Fields
14. Post Hocto-Proct

Describing this outfit as yet another uninteresting fusion super trio featuring bass player Michael Manring might seem like an unfairly quick dismissal, considering the man's talent and versatility. Of course, the musicianship displayed throughout the record is impressive, but the same can be said of every single fusion album out there. The compositions are very reminiscent of fusion greats like the Mahavishnu Orchestra ("KVB Liar", "Zimparty" intro), recent Frank Gambale ("We are not amused"), John Patitucci, John McLaughlin ("The Voyage of St. Brendan/Abbot of Clonfert") and Metal Fatigue-era Allan Holdsworth ("Purging Mendel's beasts" and "We are not amused", whose keyboard break is very similar to Holdsworth's "Atavachron"). The chord progressions and song structures are completely standard modern fusion vocabulary.

Highly touted guitarist Scott McGill comes across as the greatest disappointment here. While impressive, he is not as technically convincing as any of the guitarists he emulates, his phrasing is very derivative, and most of all his guitar sounds are very weak and overprocessed. Neil Kernon's overall production, highly touted as well, is extremely flat; the drums are undermixed and lack dynamics, Manring's sound could use a little extra processing, and the whole album completely lacks punch. This might have been a deliberate attempt to sound like vintage vinyl fusion records, but those didn't sound flat by design...

There are a handful of truly enjoyable moments here and there, such as Jordan Rudess' keyboard solo in "In-A-Gadda DaVinci" and the Villa-Lobos/Stravinsky-influenced acoustic guitar piece "Euzkadi", but certainly not enough to command the attention of anybody but die-hard fusion fans who eat Am13/C# chords for breakfast.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 07/2001

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