The Aristocrats has returned! The trio formed by Marco Minnemann (Drums), Bryan Beller (Bass) and Guthrie Govan (Guitar), in the last couple of years except for a short tour were each dedicated to their projects, now they have decided to get back together and record their fourth album since 2015 “You Know What? …” just looking at the title makes us think that the three musicians decided to simply take risks and not think too much about the final result, and this formula has worked out very well for them.
Usually the instrumental albums of rock and jazz fusion abound in melodic demonstrations, beauty and virtuosity in many cases, but they lack an element that is left over: Fun, in The Aristocrats this seems to be the main idea, that both the musicians and the public have fun, seeing them live is a guarantee of musicality but also of good humor, and this is also transmitted on their albums from the cover, to the names of the songs and the album itself.
In this fourth chapter they follow the premise of 9 songs composed in equal parts for each one, that is, 3 songs per member, I tried to listen to them and guess who wrote it, I invite you to do the same exercise, but let’s go with that: The songs…
Beginning with the noisy and crazy ‘D-Grade Fuck Movie Jam’ where the Wah Wah is present most of the time and would make Hendrix smile while the bass and drums provide The groove, here Marco brings a mini drum solo and as a curious fact you can listen to some guitar overdubs which is very rare in the band, ‘Spanish Eddie’ starts with a very clean tapping melody that reminded me of Stanley Jordan or more towards this time and more to Latin America to Felix Martin, remarkable the cleanliness of the Guthrie’s tone in this theme and the syncopation between Marco and Bryan in bass and drums, in the second half has the Spanish part of the song, in general a soft theme, however not easy to play!
Maybe I’m wrong but ‘When We All Come Together’ sounds like it’s a Guthrie song all over, for its love of country and I really like how the bass is always walking forward taking the melody the right way, almost makes me want to be in Memphis Tennessee dancing in an old tavern!
‘All Said And Done’ is a half-time song that has a lot of sixties tint where despite not having great technical skills the feeling is not lacking with a nice bass solo included (Beller’s tone is more solid than the foundations of a building) would easily put this theme while driving on the highway. Next is ‘Terrible Lizard’ inspired by… Dinosaurs 🤔, one of the things that make this band stand out is their ability to take a concept and shape it musically, in this song you feel as if a T-Rex approached with great footsteps, seriously!, even the sound of the guitar at a certain moment makes us think of mant strange noises that a prehistoric reptile would make.
‘Spirit Cactus’ 🌵is a pretty “Grunge” theme to say it somehow, takes me to the nineties of Soundgarden or Alice In Chains is a song that you could easily put lirycs on and it would have been a hit! and curiously the first 4 bars sound like Agoraphobia by Incubus (just coincidence), and yes! it takes you to a calm and reflective desert.
‘The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde’ deliver an exquisite melody adorned by Marco’s constant shuffle on drums, despite keeping the rhythm constant it does not become repetitive, it shows a certain flamenco influence and soundtrack type cinematic, something must have Guthrie picked up from his tour with Hans Zimmer 🤷🏼.
‘Burial At The Sea’ is where the beautiful and the heavy combine, I would say that the background sounds are empty glass bottles and incredibly makes you think about the title of the song, the dynamics are amazing going from clean and soft songs to a massive heavy tone!
‘Last Orders’ is a Jazz Fusion ballad where this sound trip ends, as when in a party almost all have gone except for a couple of guests who are talking at a table in the company of their half-empty drinks, however this song is not a fill, but a gentle way to say until next time.
There are bands that come back with records that are truly irrelevant, with no news… this is not the case, The Aristocrats musically has nothing to prove, the quality and background of its members is truly impressive but what they do make clear is that they can transmit feelings and emotions with instrumental music and make it a fun ride, it should also be noted that in this album there are new production aspects for the trio like over dubbed guitars and filtered drum sounds that although they are small details, make a lot of difference.
When this band announce a tour in Latin America, it will be a must see, for sure!