CD REVIEW: Arjun - Core
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Genre: Guitar Oriented Rock, Progressive Rock, Blues, Funk, Jam Band
Technical Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Snare Drum Tonality, More from other members, Melodically Busy (guitar). Short sided CD, Cover Art
ARJUN, the three-piece instrumental band from New York, has been trailblazing their own hybrid of rock and improvisational jazz since 2003. Band consists of Eddie Arjun Peters (guitar), Lamar Myers (drums), and Andre Lyles (bass), ARJUN fuses the power of rock with improvisational alternative jazz, resulting in a delicate balance of intricately crafted melodies backed by powerhouse musicianship. After signing with Pheromone Records in 2006, ARJUN released their debut album PIECES, followed by 2013’s SPACE. SPACE, the critically-acclaimed first in a three-album trilogy, is a sonic dreamscape of fluid improvisations which were conceived and recorded organically. The album’s opening track, ‘Orion,’ features legendary percussionist E.J. Rodriguez (The Jazz Passengers, Sean Lennon, Medeski Martin & Wood, Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos, D.J Logic…). ARJUN’s most recent album CORE, second in the trilogy, is a reinvention of ARJUN’s sound and style, rooted in carefully crafted melodies which tell resonant stories without words. CORE features the talents of John Medeski (of Medeski Martin & Wood) on its title track, and was mixed by legendary producer/mixer Scotty Hard. CORE was recorded at Level 11 Studios in New York City and at a studio in Brooklyn, produced by Eddie Arjun Peters and mastered at Turtletone Mastering by Michael Fossenkemper (Medeski Martin & Wood, Soulive, Bootsy Collins…). ARJUN’s soulful, razor-sharp inter-musician communication and chemistry translates vibrantly through their recorded works, and transfixes live audiences across the Northeast. ARJUN has garnered comparisons to artists such as Charlie Hunter, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Weather Report, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Gov’t Mule, Snarky Puppy, Lettuce, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The CD kicks things off with intoxicating into piece “Rocks” a melodic yet fusionist intro piece that serves up dynamic rhythm against progressive guitar segments, impressive solo guitar, meshed with hooky bass lines and methodical rhythm section thhat flows and ebbs its way through emotional fruition. Track 2 “Deep Impact” keeps it flowing with impressive guitar ambience coupled with dynamic musical feel that twists and turns making for an impressive follow up statement. Track 3 “Core” serves up yet another passionate, full tilt groove with impressive bluesy vibe against heart felt guitar melody from Peters against well placed organ and subsequent organ solo. I especially like the polarizing feel of this piece offering a grand slam solo segment leading though to the finale. Peters presents an impressive guitar front and trust me when I say his playing is an absolute treat to listen to. He showcases many impressive playing styles along the way like Jazz, Rock, Fusion, Blues and Funk. Mostly he reminds me of Stevie Ray Vaughn. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures reminiscent of classic Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dave Matthews Band, Jimi Hendrix, Tony MacAlpine with perhaps a dash of Joe Satriani and even Johnny Winter. This is music mainly for Guitar enthusiasts but fans of all things progressive, bluesy, funky, melodic, soulful will thoroughly enjoy it as well. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice most of the songs are very dynamic, passionate and full of musical peak and valley segments. All in all this CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing impressive writing and playing styles from all three members featuring top shelf musicianship and dynamic musical flow track to track. The impressive trio are not easy to pigeonhole. Because there are no vocals present Peter’s fills the melodic void extremely well via his fret board. All guitar melodies/solo segments work well within the confines of this dynamic musical catalog. Once again Peter's olds the melody line extremely well via the fret board. All songs are consistent musical experiences, and packed to the hilt with everything you would expect from a world class power trio. All Engineering aspects check out. CD Possesses crystal clear high end clarity and thick low end frequency. From start to finish the CD pulls out all the stops showcasing some amazing chops, thought provoking melodies via an extended Jam Band format. All songs are sung from a deeply honest perspective that is 100% pure and genuine. From heartfelt “Crystalline” to funky and delicious” “LavaLust” to straight forward “Alchemy” this 7 Track release has someth8ing for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 7 ”Within You” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
I don’t care how the snare drum is Mic’d on some tracks. The snare work though amazing - stands out way too much within the confines of the mix on some tracks. Bottom Line: the snare shuffles are too loud. Other band members need to step up a bit along with Peters showcasing more playing on their end. Maybe a few drum solos or bass solos here and there. As much as I like Peters he's comparable to an interior decorator electing to slap a painting on every wall in the house. It's fair to say the CD is overly busy with guitar. Sometimes it’s OK to leave a wall blank or step back a bit and let songs develop without it. Having said this Peters needs to step back and let some of the segments develop and breathe on their own before he steps in with guitar. This will give the segments more space. It’s fair to say there isn’t a second that goes by without Peters in the sonic space. Cover art misses the mark for me. CD is a bit short with just 7 tracks even with the extended play format. Perhaps 2-3 more tracks are needed to make this a fully loaded release.
Core by Arjun is an impressive musical production from start to finish. The music is highly dynamic, funky, amazing and goes down smooth, with passionate musical messages that are played from a deeply honest perspective. It’s strong suit – the melodic consistency from all players especially guitarist Eddie Arjun Peters. He’s a marquee talent within this band and clearly the musical mastermind behind the musical force called Arjun. There isn’t a weak song anywhere on this entire CD. In the end it proves good Guitar oriented music is still alive and well in New York.
Cyrus Rhodes Rhodes