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25 January 2016

Review: Cerberus- The Book Of Angels Volume 26 -- The Spike Orchestra

Arrangers Sam Eastmond and Nikki Franklin are back with the latest release from The Spike Orchestra, this time on the legendary Tzadik label. The music here is all from John Zorn’s Masada Book Two, Book of Angels Volume 26. Once again, the band brings it’s genre-bending skills to bear on these wonderful tracks. From full-on swing to distinctively middle-eastern rhythms, they cover a wide gamut of styles. Full brass arrangements, with fiery Sax solos, and inventive orchestrations bring the listener into the Spike world with no place to hide. Once you start this album there is no stopping until the end. 

Think of Stan Kenton, Chick Corea, and John Zorn as you listen to Cerberus. Driving Bass and Drums keep the pace flowing, behind flying Sax and Horn solos, and then changing to delicate and sparse woodwind and brass passages, keeping the sonic landscape changing. Check out the lead rhythmic figure from the Bari Sax on Armasa. This track has all of my favorite Spike elements.

Then check out the multi- Sax soli on Thronus. Driven in the middle of this heavily rhythmic track, the Saxes take over.

Bass Clarinet handles the introduction on Shinial before the band takes over with a Klezmer-influenced passage that leads to a jazzy Keyboard solo. That’s the fun of this album- the style changes within each track to bring a string of surprises everywhere you look.

Trombone takes center stage on Donel with the band roaring in the background. 
The band quiets down for a Sax solo with the rhythm section. Then the band enters with full Spike-ness, moving things along at a brisk pace.

Avant-Garde fans will love Pahadron, the final track. Here we find a wordless Voice joining the rhythm section, soaring over the band. Along with grunge Guitar and soaring brass, Spike leaves the listener with their indelible blueprint. In fact, we are left at the end with only the sound of amplifier hum, a final salute from a band that has left everything they have to give in the recording studio. 

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