(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
Next Order is another great Japanese band that I’ve been getting into lately. Different than what I normally would be into, this is more along the straightforward jazz lines than symphonic prog or fusion. Most of the time, the music is pleasant and melodic jazz with lots of soloing, improv and all-around impressive chops. There are a few occasions when things get slightly dissonant and a few Fripp-styled riffs get tossed around but mostly the tunes flow rather smoothly.
Formed in 2002, the band is rather basic, consisting of Yuji Muto and Takumi Seino on guitars, Atsutomo Ishigaki on bass and Hiroshi “Gori” Matsuda on drums. Each member has an impressive résumé and a degree from a prestigious music university but these are not the sterile shredmeisters that those places are famous for churning out. Don’t get me wrong, they each get a chance to show off their abilities but almost never at the expense of the great melodies and the full musical picture.
Although they decided to name this CD Live – Powered Nexus, it doesn’t sound like a live album. The sound quality is totally amazing and there is almost no crowd noise to speak of. The recording follows that long-standing tradition of having one guitarist on the left channel of the stereo signal and the other playing on the right. They are both excellent players and trade off leads and rhythm parts frequently. Most of the tracks are fairly long and there are also the occasional bass and drum solos. My favorite is probably the last one “Blue Stone” which sees the entire group stretching out and features some tasty blues riffs.
While I’m not a really big jazz fan, I did find this album to be quite a pleasurable listen. Hearing great improvisations and tight playing from a skilled quartet like this is always welcome to my ears.