P’Taah: Compressed Light

Many have taken up the challenge put down by John McLaughlin and others, with varying degrees of success, winning some attention with its “back to real instrumental skill” stance. But instrumental skill cuts both ways; sometimes it can be used to enhance forward-thinking ideas, sometimes it can be used to mask a lack of them. Some artists like the Wamdue Project’s Chris Brann are using sampling technology to access pure ideas, as on his recent disc under the P’Taah name, Compressed Light (Ubiquity URCD060; 71:43), often approximating the feel of Miles’ electric funk. Some modern rock-fusion efforts, like the David Fiuczynski/John Medeski or the Shawn Lane/Jonas Hellborg team-ups, make worthy additions to the canon, others fit the dismissive “heavy metal with a Juilliard degree” tag writer Charles Shaar Murray hung on the genre.