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Stich Wynston’s Modern Surfaces: Transparent Horizons

This Canadian crew straddles the line between formalism and all-out freedom. But rather than having fun with it, the music on Transparent Horizons is some pretty oppressive stuff. Produced by fellow Canadian drummer Barry Romberg, Transparent Horizons showcases the chemistry and experimental tendencies of drummer-composer-bandleader Stich Wynston, saxophonist Mike Murley, bassist Jim Vivian and guitarist Geoff Young (a member of Romberg’s Three Sisters group and the other principal composer here).

“Existential Departures” is about as moody and ponderous as the title implies, while “Surf Aces” is riddled with tedious group unison lines not heard since the days of Frank Zappa’s computer-driven Jazz From Hell. And as dreary as “Existential Departures” is, “Automatic Entry,” “Outward Bound” and “Intergalactic Spheres” are even worse (please, no more minor-key arco-bass lines!).

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