Viru Trio: Alien Tree
ViruTrio’s Alien Tree is the trio’s latest sonic document that brings inspiration from fusion’s forefathers past with stripped down, at times minimalist song writing to bring a savory slab of electric hipness. On the band’s myspace (myspace.com/virutrio), they describe themselves as “Trio Rock Blues with Crossover Latin Funk.” While it could be debatable as to whether that is the best description, on Alien Tree it is clear that shades of all those influences are present in the ensemble’s collective sound.
While the album opens with the stripped down repetitive “Big Cake,” the flavor of the album is evident with Antonello Catanese’s distorted guitar tone and Romano Bladassi (bass) and Lorenzo Fonda’s (drums) locked in rhythm section groove. As the album heats up, particularly on cuts like the almost Latin “Water Labrinth,” (which brings to mind some of Di Meola’s ‘70’s works) and the downtempo “Butterfly,” it’s evident that the group is more than a one trick pony. Over the top “inside baseball” ultra clever harmony is abandoned for melodies that could be enjoyed by listeners who aren’t particularly familiar with jazz. Said and done, however, as the album progresses (on cuts like “Waitin’ for the Collapse” and “Alien Tree”) Catanese starts to throw in some quick legato lines reminiscent of Holdsworth and even some of Jimmy Herring’s phrasing of recent past. The highlight of the album, however is the tones. Catanese’s guitar tone has a slightly compressed but always expressive and articulate fluidity, and Baldassi’s bass, too provides counterpoint with a tone reminiscent of the best of Eckhardt or Wooten. For fans of Jeff Beck and fusion that compromises neither tonally nor in terms of accessibility, Alien Tree is well worth checking out.