On the fourth and final installment of the Perfect Beats series, there are plenty of meat-and-potatoes electro hits (like C-Bank's "One More Shot" and Afrika Bambaataa's "Looking for the Perfect Beat"), but there are also lots of oddities to add flavor.
In 1989, Steps Ahead consisted of Mike Mainieri on MIDI vibraharp, synclavier and acoustic piano, the young saxophonist Bendik doubling on keyboards, guitarist Steve Kahn, Tony Levin on electric bass and Chapman stick, and drummer Steve Smith. The powerful band did not have a great deal of subtlety by this era, but it helped to keep the much-maligned genre of fusion alive, mixing the sound of rock with jazz improvising.
The Rose Consort of Viols was created to play music like this, and the collective and individual virtuosity of the six performers on this disc are on full display throughout the generous (72-minute) program. Particularly satisfying are the selections with organ, whose unique colours add another, very sonorous dimension to the viols' already warm, ear-pleasing consonance. The sound, from the very complementary acoustics of Forde Abbey, is appropriately full-bodied yet intimate. (David Vernier, classicstoday.com)
Aoxomoxoa is the work of the magical band. Can you hear this music and not see them before your eyes? The music is so much the reality of their physical and spiritual bodies that seeing them is the wonder of seeing music.
J.C. Lodge is the type of artist reggae purists have no use for. As they see it, blending reggae with elements of pop, urban contemporary and dance music in so sleek a fashion only serves to water reggae down. But then, Lodge never claimed to be a purist, and in fact, Tropic of Love is fairly decent. The expressive Lodge has an alluring, sexy quality to her voice that works to her advantage on such sleek pop-reggae offerings as "The Prey," "Why" and the hit "Telephone Love." Most of the material is very 1990s-sounding, but "Come Again" is a pleasant number that, except for some dancehall-minded toasting, recalls the reggae of the '60s (when Jamaican artists were paying very close attention to what the American soulsters of Motown were up to). Also noteworthy is Lodge's cover of Sylvia Robinson's seductive 1973 hit "Pillow Talk." Tropic isn't breathtaking, but it's definitely more soulful and enjoyable than reggae's purists claim.