So, there’s this Felix Martin guy. I had never heard of him, but hey, what do I know? He invented a guitar-playing technique that incorporates 14 strings on one super-big neck. What?!? Unheard of!! But here’s the thing. It sounds really cool when you listen to it. And on his sophomore release, The Scenic Album, there’s a LOT going on. It’s got elements of funk, jazz, rock, and progressive metal, all blended together to make, if nothing else, one of the more ambitious projects I’ve ever heard. And is that really a bad thing?
The album starts off with a trilogy of sorts in “The Tango – Part I”, “Part II”, and “Part III”, and they almost sound like a heavier Béla Fleck and The Flecktones, minus the banjo. “Spam II” really sounds so at the beginning, before it takes off running into metal territory about 1:23, drummer extraordinaire Marco Minnemann leading the way, then getting softer and softer as the song comes to an end. Next thing you know, we’re damn near blasted out of our chairs by the frenetic beginning of “Triangle Tune”. It starts crazy, and doesn’t let up. Talk about getting my attention! But this was definitely one I gravitated to immediately. Nathan Navarro on bass is something to behold, that’s for sure.
“High Spirit” is another one of those “How on Earth is he DOING that??” type of songs, and was the other one I kept going back to. Felix’s playing is so fluid on this tune I expected to be waist deep in water when it was done. Up next we have three songs featuring the same person: “Viroliano Tries Prog”, “Viroliano Tries Jazz”, and “Viroliano Tries Metal”. They’re all nice, but none of them had me reaching for the REPEAT button, or anything. At the same time, they’re not bad.
Now, “Eleven Drums” showcases everyone’s talents nicely, and subtly. It starts out quietly, then builds and builds without getting too crazy. Album closer “2 AM” is a little slice of jazz heaven at first, then morphs into a metal monster, then BACK to jazz, BACK to metal, before the jazz sticks its head out to say goodnight one last time, and is the right way to finish things off. Overall I was impressed with Mr. Martin and his band mates’ playing, and the songs are structured well without being too long and drawn-out. This type of music may not be for everybody, but it will certainly grab, and hold your attention. It sure got mine.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Eleven Drums”, “Triangle Tune”, “High Spirit”