Review Summary: One of the greatest and most recognizable fusion albums of all time, and truly a unique listen.
Given that jazz fusion is a genre which all too often runs into the trap of effectively just becoming jam sessions with odd time signatures (which isn't a bad thing necessarily but has become increasingly grating), it's nice to hear something genuinely unique. Such is the case with many of the classics, from the strong but admittedly slightly overrated Heavy Weather
, the experimental Metal Fatigue
, and of course, Offramp
This album pretty much epitomizes Pat Metheny's work. While following albums differ from this, this pretty much demonstrates the route of his approach as a musician; tasteful, atmospheric, and often quite clearly themed in a particular way. Naturally, this breaks the monotony of some musicians (yes, John Scofield
that does include you), and it does set Offramp apart from a lot of other jazz fusion albums. The atmospheric tendencies are very much present on tracks like Baracole
and The Bat Part II
, which both have minimal use of guitar, only for simple leads, but successfully use synths to a great sense of size in the former track and a sense of wonder in the latter. when the more traditional jazz instrumentation is present, it isn't used unwisely, instead relying on fairly simple or crowded elements that help to distinguish all the tracks very easily. The instrumentation is definitely extremely skilled, with a series of excellent leads and bass lines present from various jazz staples, but with a great deal more competence and thought being used.
The album's variation can occasionally be a bit of a double edged sword, as if you like on track here you may get off put by others, particularly the more traditional James
, but it makes up for it by having no real weak tracks. From the very first to very last track, there are only slight dips in quality. Undoubtedly the album highlights are the brilliant Are You Going With Me
, the former comprising almost entirely of memorable leads, and the latter having a great sense of energy and pace. The title track may put off some due to its wild nature, but it still works excellently, and while some of the slightly more energetic tracks are found in the second half, it ends on a calm note, making the album as a whole very strong.
Realistically, this is a very hard album to fault. While some may prefer something a bit more traditional or some of Pat's other works like The Way Up
, this is still a classic of the genre and easily worth your time.
Are You Going With Me