CAVE - Allways - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

CAVE - Allways

by Howard Scott Rating:9 Release Date:2018-10-19
CAVE - Allways
CAVE - Allways

Chicago based instrumental band CAVE is celebrating the ten year anniversary of their first long play release this October with an entirely new album consisting of six cuts of psych, Kraut and jazz fusion sound that sticks to a formula and makes it work. The new offering, entitled Allways, will by released by Drag City records and will be supported by a tour of the U.S. concurrently.

CAVE has grown to a quintet of musicians since their last release, and changed some members of the roster as well. Keyboardist Rotten Milk has been replaced by Rob Frye, who plays multiple instruments, and Jeremy Freeze has also joined as a guitarist. Cooper Crain (Keys and guitars), Dan Browning (bass) and drummer Rex McMurry remain from the long-standing lineup.

The group’s Krautrock influences show through on every cut on the album. Each song has a wicked, repeating groove that introduces the sound, and then guitars, keyboards and even woodwinds are added to the mix to enrich and supplement the music. The basic backbones of each of the six songs can be called repetitive, and to some degree, they are. There is so much going on elsewhere, though, that that repetition is not overwhelming or annoying. It grounds the music and sets a base of operations for everything else.

“The Juan” opens the album with just such a heavy beat for the first minute of the listen, but then an instant and somewhat unexpected wall of sound explodes over the project and introduces an infectious  refrain. Sharp guitar licks and wondrous keyboards light up the vibrance. Five and a half minutes in, the music comes to a screeching halt, and then the same backbeat kicks in with a new  and more spacey sounding cover. It is almost like two different songs stuck together, but sharing the same beat.

The band’s jazz capability kicks in on “San’ Yago”. A pulsating Afrobeat,  with an added taste of a Latin influence,  sets the base for  very satisfying guitar patterns, and Crain’s keyboard work also gives this cut a polished and highly produced feel. It is easily my favorite on the album, and has been the first cut released as a video.

Guitar licks immediately introduce the palindrome-entitled “Aharaha”.  This is perhaps the most repetitive sounding recording here, but the guitar and organ  work shines through and gives the listener a unique experience.

All the electronic tools are employed on “Dusty”, which features a syncopated percussion sound that sometimes seems to be at war with the rest of the song. Its a war everyone wins though, as McMurry gets taken off the leash here and offers fills and flourishes that don’t appear on other cuts.

“Beaux” employs a locomotive like a cadence that combines with a droning bass line to give the music an industrial feel before the heavily fuzzed guitars show up and give the tune a more rough and edgy atmosphere. This a band jamming at it’s best with all members adding to the sum of the parts that would be severely lacking if any were removed.

The closer is entitled “Shasha” and saves a few more surprises for last. Browning’s bass work is exceptional on this one and provides a deeper mood than the rest of the record. Even some shadowy background vocals are added here, though somewhat muted in the mix. The use of a flute offers the listener an unexpected treat that enriches the melody and the total body of work. I think it was way back in the Jethro Tull days since I last heard the use of this woodwind instrument, and I have never heard anyone use it better than CAVE. The listening experience is heightened to a different level by thinking outside the box and augmenting the sound with oft-neglected instruments.

CAVE has also been resourceful in promoting previous works by boating down the river in Chicago while playing their music, and another musical trip on board a flatbed truck that traversed the Windy City’s gritty streets also garnered them lots of attention. No such journey has yet been announced for Allways, but one never knows!

The music of Cave may not be everyone’s cup of tea, mainly because of the repetitive nature, and the fact that it is strictly instrumental, but that fact may be causing some listeners to miss out. This is a recording by five supremely talented musicians who know how to craft a song and make it a pleasurable experience for the listener, and really, what more should music provide? A trip out of the comfort zone can be an exhilarating thing, and CAVE very much offers that opportunity.


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