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MP3 Hectic Watermelon - The Great American Road Trip

Featuring Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Dixie Dregs), intensely colorful Post-Zappa fusion presented in deep compositions reviewing the American jazz-rock landscape while breaking new ground. For hi-fi mp3s, please go to https://www.tradebit.com

11 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Instrumental Rock, JAZZ: Jazz Fusion

2006 Release. The group Hectic Watermelon is the fresh expression of guitarist-composer, John Czajkowski, and the band’s new album, The Great American Road Trip, is an intensely colorful, and nuanced smorgasbord of “post-Zappa commando-fusion.” Czajkowski formed the power trio with musical partners Darren DeBree and Harley Magsino on drums and bass to deliver an album of new compositions reflecting classic sensibilities while breaking new ground. The legendary fusion pioneer, Jerry Goodman, joins the lineup on electric violin and is featured on 9 of the 11 tracks. Czajkowski adds, “Jerry’s amazing playing added a whole new level of intensity and passion to the album.” Additional guests include Brian Kahanek, Scott Lerner, and Kevin Freeby - who all play on one track each. Experiencing the debut album, The Great American Road Trip, the listener is treated to a nostalgic retrospective that draws from the American jazz-rock tradition of the past four decades with an ambitious new compositional direction. Czajkowski relates, “My aim has been to write and produce an album that has more dimension than a blazing mainstream guitar-oriented album. I wanted to create a rich and artful collection of music that attempts to build bridges between both high- and low-status types of music that I identify with as an American musician and music lover, but which are often at odds with one another amongst artists, listeners and critics.” The resulting album is a palette of deep compositions that draw idioms ranging from classical, jazz and fusion to progressive rock, bluegrass, and metal.

The Great American Road Trip is divided into three movements of approximately four tracks each. The first movement, The Great American Road Trip sets off on an optimistic journey through new sonic landscapes while reflecting on the music of American popular music. The first track, Sacred Watershed, is a gently fragmented psychedelic prelude that lures the listener to into an unconscious reflection of the traditions of American jazz-rock music. The tune features Brian Kahanek’s fuzzface guitar in the role of the ghost of Jimi swirling around Czajkowski’s layers of nylon fretless and backwards soundscapes. Whereas the first track is a gently introverted, the chaotic and math-intensive, The Third Derivative of James Brown, is an extroverted trip through the band’s comical and slamming style of “post-Zappa commando math fusion-metal.” It weaves together the fragmented sounds of detuned metal guitars, fusion drums, hip-hop samples in angular Zappa-esque ensemble unisons over polymetric contrapuntal explorations. The cut features intricate unisons between Czajkowski and Goodman setting the stage for an album of tasteful and varied interplay between electric violin and guitar. The third track, Bionic Hillbilly, initially appears to head into a more traditional blues and rockabilly path that fuses good old blues tones with fusion sensibilities, but then it careens off into a ridiculously varied metric landscape with a menagerie of chromatic, and ultimately atonal, harmonic beasts. The fourth cut, F Street Fulano involves an emotive recollection of American melodic fiddle motifs in a funky setting that creates an uneasy tension between tender and adult idioms.

The second movement is titled, Subterranean Suite, and the liner notes hint “sometimes the road becomes treacherous.” Indeed it does, as we are dumped into the hauntingly tribal Dreams of Concrete Jungles. Studying the liner notes seems to reveal that there is no guitar on this track. We are left to assume Czajkowski’s “elephantaphone” listed on track (5) is responsible for the harrowing low-driving ostinato against which Magsino conjures up his free-jazz upright lines. Meanwhile Goodman’s wah-violin implies a new and nefarious psychedelic tone to this new movement. The piece crescendos into samples of a German subway leading us directly into the 6th track, Subterranean Rapid Transit, which is is a dark world of molten metal textures and melting time scales punctuated by mechanical sounds and brash images suggested by the lightening violin and guitar unisons throughout. The solo trades imply a classic violin and guitar duel of light and dark with Goodman showing the pathway towards the light this time. The dark scene dissolves into a hypnotic and spacious soundscape of track seven, Layover in Hamemet. It reflects upon many of the tunes already experienced on the album with synthesized automobiles signaling the passage of events. Magsino reappears using minimalist extended techniques on the upright bass that suggest oriental and minimalist vespers of an unconscious state. The soundscape gives way to the final track of the movement, Stray Dogs Messaging Project, which Czajkowski relates “was inspired by a Spring trip to the Chinese postmodern art exhibition with my teacher and friend, Joseph Waters, where we checked out a bunch of postmodern works that reminded me of fragmented scenes from my childhood in the San Francisco Bay mixed with my many trips to Asia.” The density and darkened psychic terror of the first half of the movement is optimistically resolved into a spacious and light landscape of briskly running additive rhythms.

The last three tracks comprise the third and final movement of the album. The title reference of the 9th track, Steve’s Stunt Double, is a barnstorming Celtic hat-tip to Steve Morse. The 10th track and vocal number, Twenty-first Century Visigoth, almost appears out of place on the instrumental album, but the minstrel-like spoken-sung vocal delivers an all-too-accurate and scathing excoriation of modern rock radio. Czajkowski shares his condolences for corporate rock radio, “Metal Radio used to be pretty cool until it devolved into a profitable formula characterized by racist, misogynist undertones to sell a lightweight metalzak soundtrack.” The final track of the album, Bullets, Dice and 30 Mb weaves together sounds of CAB, the Dregs, and even Planet X into an aggressive and soaring outro number. Czajkowski dedicates the final track to drummer, Darren DeBree, and boasts, “Darren has been the ultimate trooper and partner in crime putting this band together. I told Darren that if I were going to get into knocking off banks to raise money for new gear, he’d be on the short list of assistants! This tune is about those sorts outlaw impulses, I guess.”

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