From Space & Beyond
Beam On Music, 2011
REVIEW BY: Josh Allen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/13/2011
Uber-guitarist Tim Reynolds earned most of his visibility co-piloting the Dave Matthews Band, spicing up their albums and legendary live performances alike with sometimes subtle, sometimes splashy licks on electric guitar. This is only a subset of his career, however, as much of his own works, dating back over 35 years ago, are worlds apart from his contributions to DMB. From Space & Beyond, a two-disc marathon that assembles pieces from a handful of live shows in 2009, is a glimpse into this other universe.
Tim Reynolds and his backing band, TR3, subscribe to a genre of music represented by experimental rock's intersection with classic rock. Mick Vaughan on bass and Dan Martier on drums unobtrusively frame highly complex, masterful performances on electric guitar by Tim himself.
Aside from the always impressive technical expertise of Tim's guitar, the most absorbing quality of From Space & Beyond is its versatility. The range of music covered by the album is expansive, from straight-up, no-frills blues rock (as in opener “Do You Wanna” and “The Wind Just Blew The Door Wide Open”) to adaptations of classic rock and R&B legends past (“Hocus Pocus” and even James Brown's “Get Up [I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine]”) to psychedelic experiments with looping techniques and other effects that really must be from beyond space.
Following the comparatively standard rock compositions in the first couple of tracks, TR3 first breaks ground with “Kaballah,” incorporating middle Eastern influences and bizarrely appealing scatting with impressive on-again, off-again improvisations on guitar. To keep the listener guessing, TR3 toys with more prominent rhythms and reggae influences in “Meaning To Tell You,” and invites fellow DMB-er and saxophonist Jeff Coffin for a noisy, jazzy change-up called “Indoctrinate” with anti-establishment lyrics (“The media's a weapon of mass destruction / Mass control to defeat your mind / Control the mass so you can't decide”). The last minute of “Mercury Direct” caps a suspenseful crescendo of electric guitar phrases with a finale featuring screeching, robotic effects that are anything but earthly. Finally, the album delves into darker instrumental tracks like “Cave Man” and “Face Off,” which are barely distinguishable, but rich in power chords and complex sequences on guitar.
There's a lot to like about this album, but no doubt the first deficiency you might find with TR3 is the trio's somewhat unrefined, underwhelming vocals. But then, if you're buying an album that emphasizes talents on non-vocal instruments, are you really expecting to be blown away by the singing? Probably not, but the fact remains, that missing element holds the album back a little. Twice, the band pays homage to Led Zeppelin, taking on “Whole Lotta Love” and “How Many More Times.” No doubt these interpretations pleased the crowd, but they fall short of the bar set by Robert Plant and company.
Overall, though, From Space & Beyond is an impressive, widely varied showcase of an undoubtedly innovative and talented power rock trio. It's worth your while to educate your musical tastes with the one-of-a-kind sounds that emanate from Tim Reynolds's amp.
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