The Aristocrats, “Culture Clash” (2013): One Track Mind

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I need to find out which one of my friends recommended the Aristocrats to me. I owe someone a bear hug.

Founded in 2011, the Aristocrats features guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann. Govan rose to fame with Asia/GPS and has also worked with Steven Wilson, while Beller (Steve Vai / Joe Satriani) and Minnemann (Adrian Belew / UKZ / Steven Wilson / Joe Satriani) are solo stars in their own right. Yet even with this impressive pedigree, the Aristocrats are more than the sum of their parts.

The band’s versatility, power and instrumental prowess, captured now on two previous studio releases, may be best heard on the title track from Aristocrats’ 2013 album Culture Clash. It combines elements of heavy jazz, progressive rock and a melodic sensibility which all but defies description.

Guthrie Govan’s guitar is mighty yet never overshadows Bryan Beller or Marco Minnemann. The Aristocrats’ power is unmistakable, yet they execute the multiple complex time signatures with a sensitivity belying their power. Ultimately, “Culture Clash” is aptly titled, as it incorporates styles and time signatures which you might, at first blush, expect to bump into each other, but ultimately it all gels in a cohesive and spicy rock/fusion stew.

The Aristocrats are set to release the highly anticipated follow up to Culture Clash in June 2015, with Tres Caballero. (That follows their 2011 self-titled debut, and live albums like Culture Clash Live! and Secret Show: Live in Osaka) Until then, stand out moments like this one will more than satisfy that fusion/progressive itch.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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