With a tongue-in-cheek title like Tastemaker Epics, the illustrious West Coast guitarist Bill Horist implores you to hold tight to your sense of humor, no matter how bleak the trip. And bleak it is - a dystopian soundscape dotted with windswept ruins, every track a now-deserted locale to explore.
The bowels of the city have been emptied, picked dry, casting you out in search of sustenance. You scavenge on the outskirts, where industrial rust melds with dried, bronzed fauna. In the weeds, decayed machinery sparks and fizzles. Shiny trinkets linger amidst trash, shimmering under the surface - a token of former prestige.
Moments of respite emerge from the most unlikely of places: the jarring robotic bubbling of "The Trends Justify the Memes" disrupted by silky loops that evolve into sonic sword-fighting. The calming liquified loop of "Futility Knife" obscured by blurts of noise. The ominous drone of "So Bright, We Cast Shadow in All Directions" building to dense heavenly harmonies.
The work is punctuated by a cynicism that spits in the face of desolation and decay while still holding out hope. Never too aggressive to be off-putting but with enough bite to ensure bleeding, Tastemaker Epics truly feels epic, despite the sarcasm of the title - brash and audacious with a pervasive, buried beauty, Horist's latest outing builds a world that's teetered off the brink.
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Really this album is a masterclass in Hard-Bop, Post-Bop, Spiritual jazz, and soul jazz all wrapped up in a impressively cohesive package.
It pays tribute to those that came before while still keeping an eye to the future/past. A. Trott