Saturday, February 22, 2014

Eddie Brnabic & The Cosmic Fellowship - Subtle Realms

I landed at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, Arizona for a change in flights.  That is when I first listened to the instrumental album Subtle Realms by Eddie Brnabi & The Cosmic Fellowship.  Upon hearing the first track, "Voices Of The Spirits," a slow, pan flute heavy cut, I was a bit discouraged.  There is only one Gheorghe Kamfir, "Master Of The Pan Flute."  I had no desire to listen to an album of people blowing on tubular reeds, no matter how well done.  If I had stopped listening then and there I probably would have tossed the release in the "no real interest" pile for recycling.  However, I let the album play.

I'm glad I did.  The remainder of the album is fantastic.  On "Transcendental Wine" Brnabic channels Jeff Beck with his extraordinary wah-wah work, so much so that the song sounds like it could have been a track on Beck's "Blow By Blow" album. Bassist Gregos Madja bumps, and drummer Steven Rubio thumps, through the tune "Throne Of Saturn" while guitarist Brnabic conjurs the Robben Ford that for a short time played with The Blue Line. A King Crimson-era Robert Fripp-ish composition, "Still . . . Tripping Through Time," puts a whole lot of  "Cosmic" in The Cosmic Fellowship.

Brnabi then provides a soulful, southern rock ditty in the style of Dickey Betts, "Pearl," that lets Dario Lapoma exercise the keyboards. "Moongroove" made me think of Elvin Bishop's hit "I'm Strutting My Stuff Y'all" and, true to the groove, Brnabi does strut his licks. As "Waves" played I could not help but notice the similarity of the composition, and the guitar playing, to that of Al DiMeola during his Return To Forever days. 

An exposition through the best progressive blues/jazz rock grooves of the 1970's and 1980's would not be complete without an exhibition of Frank Zappa-like compositional and guitar mastery,  the tune "Riff Mountain" does just that, or John McLaughlin's epic transcendental work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The final track "Death & Resurrection" does that.

Although Eddie Brnabic & The Cosmic Fellowship wear their influences on their breasts, the music is reminiscent and not wholly derivative.  I think that is exactly the concept behind the album as each of the tracks harkens to a guitarist and band that was one of the "Voices Of The Spirits" of contemporary rock.  The band merely brings those voices forth on Subtle Realms. Bottom line, I don't think you can get this much rocking good transcendence anywhere else for only $7.00.  Check it out, but, here’s a caution - like me, after listening to it, you may find yourself on a different plane. 

- Old School

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