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Tunnels: Progressivity

Tunnels makes a big show of its undying allegiance to early fusion-Lifetime, Mahavishnu, Jack Johnson Miles-in the liners, a declaration more or less along the lines of, “We liked fusion before it got all limp, and marshmallowy; you know, when it was muscular and cool.” Fair enough. But the insight into Tunnel’s listening preferences doesn’t really reflect on the music of Progressivity. With a clean, almost antiseptic sound, the band hardly channels the raw power of those early fusion groups.

Tunnels’ music comes from hip-hop and electronica rhythms melded with shifting meters, prog-rock solos and nervous energy all layered into a bustling slab of sound. Despite some heated arguments from core members Marc Wagnon on MIDI-vibes and Frank Katz on drums, and the near-constant buzz of electric bassist Percy Jones, Progressivity is a pretty cold listen.

One song that encapsulates the recording particularly well, “7,584,333,440 Miles Away,” shifts between the electronic/dance beat and Katz’s more open-ended rhythms as Wagnon churns out overly dramatic, Flash Gordon chords. The sprawling tune goes on entirely too long (topping the 20-minute mark) without going anywhere, and then, as if to underscore the aimlessness of it all, fades away without a proper ending.

Violinist Mark Feldman shows up on a few Progressivity tracks and lends a human element to the music, but it’s not nearly enough.

Originally Published