First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2004, Volume 11, #3
Written by John Metzger
Thereís no question that on its self-titled debut, ModeReko catered to the jam band crowd, but it did so with a jazzy air of sophistication and experimentation. Unfortunately, its sophomore effort Solar Igniter sheds much of what made its previous outing a worthwhile, if not essential, experience, eliminating any promise that the group once offered. While ModeReko continues to combine a wealth of styles within its songs, a majority of its new album feels forced to fit within some predetermined mold. Reggae and Middle Eastern sounds are crammed together on 35 Rooms, for example, and a bluegrass segue is squished between the funk-rock grooves of El Kabong and Getaway Float. In both cases, itís less of a risky, edgy accomplishment than it is a ridiculously self-serving pronouncement of eclecticism. Even worse, the band stretched Solar Igniter into nearly 70 bloated minutes of material, utilizing vocals provided by drummer John Molo, guitarist Tim Kobza, multi-instrumentalist Bobby Read, and guest Keller Williams as an unsuccessful means for breaking up the monotony of an all-instrumental outing. Ironically, the lyrical pieces are the worst of the bunch, and these jazz-trained musicians seem to have forgotten that an album need not have a vocalist to make it exciting. Fortunately, Readís wizardry on saxophone, flute, and clarinet is apparent throughout, at least partly making up for the bandís many missteps along the way. Ĺ
Solar Igniter is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box