Peripheral Vision – Sheer Tyranny Of Will (2014)

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A small ensemble of young, creative musicians out of Toronto who nimbly mix mainstream jazz, modern jazz and rock? Think Myriad3. And, think Peripheral Vision, too.

Peripheral Vision is a quartet that’s been around since 2008 and quickly made an impression with an eponymous titled album two years later. It’s a four-piece band with Trevor Hogg on tenor sax and Nick Fraser on drums, but the masterminds are longtime musical partners Don Scott (guitar) and Michael Herring (bass). On September 23, 2014, the four piece band will put forth their third CD, Sheer Tyranny Of Will, which like the trio Myriad3 just seems to be hitting their stride.

The secret ingredient on Sheer Tyranny Of Will that sets it forward from their first two albums is Jean Martin. He’s the additional engineer brought in to add overdubs and studio-derived sonic accouterments that complement Peripheral Vision’s live-in-the-studio (or in the case of Spectacle: Live!, live on stage) way of laying down tracks. Your ears will pick up the spectral soundscapes that makes the choruses soar on “Robbed and Ridiculed” and “Neurosis And Everyday Life.” The overdubs also give an illusion of comfort within “Wiretap” just before an abrupt, sharp passage full of guitars attacking from various directions jolts the song out of getting too comfortable with itself.

The after-hours tinkering might alter the colors of the sound — and does so with good discretion — but Herring’s and Scott’s songs and how they actualize them remain the central point of intrigue. “Cement Watchers” goes through movements of jazz, folk, avant-garde and indie rock but it’s meshed together so well that the stitches aren’t showing. On top of all that, Herring uncorks a sublime sawed bass turn amid the free jazz section.

The aforementioned “Robbed” exhibits the quartet’s signature jerky, start-stop energy and wholly unpredictable progressions and rollercoaster tempos. The off-kilter funk of “Charleston Heston” forces everyone to be on their toes, with nimble lead from Herring and rhythm guitar from Scott. The percolating “Backbone” is a feature for Hogg, who rides this groove in Donny McCaslin fashion. “The Ill Conceived Plan” is a moment where the straight-jazz influence that’s always present in the band’s work goes to the front, marked by a deadly bass/guitar riff going low while a guitar/sax riff goes up high (Scott’s a busy man on this tune).

It all ends with one of the few softer numbers, “Patina,” an unhurried pastel melody that’s increasingly challenged by the restless rhythm section from Herring and Fraser, luring an acid-toned guitar solo from Scott.

Unfailingly fresh, incalculable and rewarding, Peripheral Vision is giving jazz the swift kick in the pants that it needs. Sheer Tyranny Of Will is sheer inventive talent on display.

Visit Peripheral Vision’s website for more info.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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