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Brian Shankar Adler: Fourth Dimension (Chant)

A review of the percussionist/composer's seventh album as a leader

Brian Shankar Adler, Fourth Dimension
The cover of Fourth Dimension by Brian Shankar Adler

Chant Records, run by John Zorn protégés and avant-jazz heads Jon Madof and Shanir Blumenkranz, calls itself “a sonic temple for adventurous music.” So far in its fruitful two-year run, Chant’s output has run a wildly eclectic gamut from Jewish traditional music, surf, prog, doom metal, and Afrobeat to free jazz, hip-hop, and Middle Eastern folk.

That outside-the-box ethos continues with Fourth Dimension, the eye-opening seventh record as leader from ace percussionist and composer Brian Shankar Adler. Leading a locked-in group made up of vibraphonist Matt Moran, guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, bassist Rob Jost, and pianist/keyboardist Santiago Leibson, Adler heads for a fertile zone where Indian classical music, avant-garde jazz, and rock elements meet.

The time Adler spent living in an ashram as a child clearly has played a crucial role in fostering the spirituality that shimmers from these 11 finely crafted pieces. Their world-centric explorations conjure both Alice Coltrane-like trance-jazz and the shredding guitar of Nels Cline. Adler is a polyrhythmic force, capable of both heavy-hitting and feather-light precision, and his momentum always seems to be shifting with unpredictable flourishes. Moran’s vibes are a revelation throughout the program, as is Goldberger’s guitar wizardry, evidenced by standout tracks like “Mantra” and “Rudram.” Meanwhile, Leibson shines on the angelic “Windy Path” and the playful “Watertown.”

With a penchant for compositions that are mind-bendingly complex and New York City gritty yet still somehow capable of evoking the delicacy of a summer breeze, Brian Shankar Adler shows he’s a bandleader on the rise.

Preview, buy or download Fourth Dimension on Amazon!

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