Special EFX: Masterpiece

With co-founder George Jinda sidelined due to illness, guitarist Chieli Minucci has been given the reins of Special EFX. For Masterpiece (66:01), Minucci teams with saxophonist David Mann for a collection of atmospheric, warm and occasionally majestic tone-paintings. Minucci’s resonant acoustic sounds are at the heart of memorable pieces like “Awakening,” which evokes the joy of a sunrise in bright soprano piping and acoustic strum, and “No More Goodbyes,” a sweet, mid-tempo ballad boasting a mix of classical guitar and fretless bass texture. Some selections, like “Masterpiece,” awash in heavy bustling rhythm programs, and “Miami”-a more detailed version of the Rick Braun nightbeat piece-, are more atmosphere than song,-but most experiments pay off here. The congested beat box-based, effects-laden “Close Encounters,” for example, has a dark streak that may even hint at an untapped dramatic side of this veteran band.