Dean De Benidictis Reviews Whoopgnash



I’ve seen this ensemble develop from its earliest stages. More then anything during that time, and as a friend of the band, I basically thought of Whoopgnash as a freakspilling-plasterjam-warpspeed-Allan Holdsworth type-protege garage band. This to me was the best and rarest kind of protege garage band, the kind you could always have fun with as an experienced musician due to the fact that they really were influenced by one of the truest jazz geniuses of our time, thus making their music challenging and interesting by default. That was in the beginning, but ever since then I can honestly say with total objectivity that Whoopgnash has continuously impressed me with their progress cultivating an artistic identity and powerfully blazing drive as a refined (yet hardcore) modern jazz/fusion band. My newer impression of Whoopgnash was egged-on by their latest release Full Scrape (a CD acting as a hard-edged stylistic template for their overall sound), but was totally smack-over-the-head solidified after seeing their DVD release The Unclear Channel from beginning to end. When I first put The Unclear Channel on I literally jumped up with excitement for my friends, immediately followed by that feeling of ‘whoop-ass’ invincibility and inspiration we sometimes feel when hearing ‘whoop-ass’ music of any type (you know what I mean). The funny thing is, I haven’t really stopped doing just that whenever watching this DVD. The Unclear Channel is a ‘clear’ representation of, and excursion into, how musically fearless, adventurous, and just plain TIGHT this band is, coupled with a range of intensity that spans from the most hardcore fusion shredding vibe to the most haunting of ballad sentimentality. This DVD is a visual production that literally shows you what Whoopgnash is: an expressive avant fusion band that translates with blatant precision. Whoopgnash proceeds to get more intense in the ‘rawest’ sense of the word as time goes by, and one thing I’m certain you will never have to worry about Is that they will meet the commercial fate that so many musicians (professed legends) have met throughout jazz/fusion history. I don’t think you will ever have to worry about this band someday going muzak, or standard, or new age due to trend pressure and/or opportunist temptation, an assessment going on their individual backgrounds alone: John Erickson started out a heavy metal guitar player, and though you can still hear overtones of this in his soloing ability his growth as a melodically-complex yet edgy player/composer should be perfectly obvious; Bill Paul is a drummer whom I’ve known ever since he graduated from The Berkley School Of Music and who’s main interest has NEVER CEASED to be music in its most progressive, complex, and envelope pushing form; Jeff Jarrard’s history encompasses avant rock, progressive rock, avant-folk rock, and all things uniquely psychedelic, even his personality can be described that way. Going on attitudes and backgrounds of the Whoopgnash members AT HAND, it’s no wonder they artistically give it such a beat’n now, and will continue to in whatever direction they happen to take. -Dean De Benedictis (keyboardist – Surface 10, Brand X)

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