Review Summary: Not since Sleepytime Gorilla Museum have I heard people try to expand the boundaries of musical thinking in a way that was not just entertaining and fulfilling for the band, but for the audience as well.
Hiromi Uehara, by her very presence, seems a delicate and unassuming person, but don’t let the looks fool you because this shy and timid girl just oozes talent and originality. Hiromi’s fiery live performances are the best judge of her music and a center piece when at a lost for words on how to describe the music, especially to someone who has never “experienced” it. Violent, graceful, technical and emotional are some of the labels that one may think or say when listening to a composition from this young lady. Hailing from Japan, Hiromi took up piano lessons at the age of six and was introduced to the world of jazz by her instructor not too long after.
Time Control: Hiromi’s Sonicbloom
would definitely be Hiromi’s greatest achievement since debuting as a solo recording artist back in 2003 with Another Mind
. Her musical-stylings have always touched on everything under the sun: jazz, classical, pop, funk, progressive, experimental, you name it she has probably put it to wax. That’s what’s so exciting about her releases; you can’t be sure--to any degree--what you’ll hear and Time Control
is no exception.
On this release Hiromi requires the help of a “three-piece-orchestra,”
with Martin Valihora on drums, Tony Grey handling bass and, to top it all off, the stupendous Dave "Fuze" Fiuczynski tickling the guitar. All these players have an important part in twisting and altering the perception of time.
The introduction to Time Control, “Time Difference,” is like something Liquid Tension Experiment forgot to write. The introduction has ties with progressive metal and rock roots where the later parts resemble a band experimenting with jazz and a synthesizer. Dave comes in with an interesting atonal-like guitar solo towards the middle then into a harmonized recap of the aforementioned introduction back into a more conceptual and modal sounding solo.
“Time Out” is ‘the funk’ that has been missing from the music world since the late 70s. The middle section again has Dave ripping up the guitar, but this time with the wah pedal reminiscent of Steve Vai’s work on “Yankee Rose” or “Little Green Men.” The bass has a stellar solo going on in this song too. I would say the ending piano solo is my favorite work from the entire record. A grooving solo that is the epitome of cool by jazz standards.
“Time Travel” starts off with a more traditional sounding jazz sound with a bass solo that’s very melodic and listenable for a non-jazz fan. The song then takes a turn that isn’t a “left” or “right” because it goes for a loop into hyperspace (still keeping that walking bass line the whole time though), yet it comes back into a riff that reminds me heavily of a Steely Dan song from the 70s. As quiet and gentle as it entered the song leaves with piano.
On a more laid back and melodic approach “Deep Into the Night” and “Time and Space” fill the ears with sonic exhilaration. A whisper sounding guitar solo in “Deep Into the Night” and some therapeutic chords resonating from the piano on “Time and Space” help get the listener in the mood for forgetfulness. “Time and Space” bounces from the stellar ordinary to the bizarre, but it does it in a way that isn’t jarring or unnecessary.
Then you have “Real Vs. Body Clock = Jet Leg,” which pretty much sums itself up with its own title. At times the song is very cartoonish and comical, sounding like something from a Tom & Jerry episode. An astonishing synthesizer and bass duet can be heard around the middle section which flows brilliantly into a ragtime-like piece.
Funny enough the track “Time Flies,” which is the proper album closer to me, leaves you wanting more. It is an amalgamation of what came before it: airy jazz to very riff oriented progressive rock all tied together with a touch of ‘out of the box’ thinking that makes Hiromi unique. The uplifting and ending guitar solo coupled with the beautifully teary-eyed piano work would make for a fitting end; however, the actual album closer, “Time’s Up” (very much in vein of her whole presence and approach towards music) builds very gently and unassuming with soft arpeggiated chords and a lyrical guitar passage gyring forth, then without notice you’re shocked back into reality with a loud a booming voice (or action not too unlike her live performances).
Not since Sleepytime Gorilla Museum have I heard people try to expand the boundaries of musical thinking in a way that was not just entertaining and fulfilling for the band, but for the audience as well. If you dig jazz or just crave something out of the ordinary, I highly recommend picking this album up!