Ian East – Inner Paths (2016)

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The original psych-prog band Gong pioneered music that distills together so many genres that it requires its musicians to master a multitude of styles. So it’s hardly surprising that its linchpin Daevid Allen was capable of gliding across rock, jazz, folk, and psychedelia as if there are no fences between them. All the same, the musicians he brought into this band needed that same range and open-mindedness.

Current Gong reedist Ian East definitely fits that bill. If that wasn’t clear enough on Gong’s just-released jewel Rejoice! I’m Dead!, well, he is poised to release his first solo that makes the case even stronger.

Inner Paths — on sale October 14th, 2016 via Pathway Records — is a solo album in the truest sense of the word ‘solo.’ East plays all the instruments, consisting of saxes, clarinets and percussion. Not all at once a la Rahsaan Roland Kirk, mind you, but by the adroit use of tracking and looping, you wouldn’t know the difference.

That’s not even the main charm of Inner Paths: rather, it’s him putting that Gong-like range to use but into different areas: jazz, chamber music, Balkan, Middle Eastern, African folk strains and even blues (“Rotations”) are pureed together over contagious grooves. These circular figures are simpler than those found on most Gong songs but the melodies are so universally catchy that you’re not apt to think of them in terms of their ethnic makeup.

It’s also the rare instrumental album that’s equally good for casual chillin’ or close listening, where one can get lost in the intricately weaved arrangements — “Dance Of The Awakening” and “Parallel Realities” are two of many examples — and the layered, sub-Saharan exuberance of “Eternal Cycles.” East does some nifty soloing too; dig his alto sax turn on “Graceful Ascent,” and he never solos long enough to wander into noodling territory.

It’s all-acoustic, by the way. I feel I have to explicitly state that because in this heavily electric/electronic musical world it’s easy to forget that these grooves are 100% organic.

Here’s an ethnic fusion album that’s fun to listen to now and will be fun to listen to a hundred plays from now. Getting a world music education can hardly be more enjoyable than listening to Ian East’s Inner Paths.


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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