ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Jugalbandi (USA) - Overall View

Prolusion. The duo Jugalbandi (which in Hindi means "music for a duo") was formed in 1993. Before, Greg Segal was a founding member of Paper Bag (see the Gibraltar EPR) whose four fully improvised albums for SST during the 1980s garnered the international attention. While Jugalbandi often performed live during the 1990s, their music became available on CDs only in the new millennium. There are no overdubs on their albums.


1999 - "1999"
(76 min, 'Great Artists')

1999 - "Deep Cuts"
(70 min, 'Great Artists')

2000 - "The View is Better From the Top of the Food Chain"
(73 min, 'Great Artists')

2001 - "Yellow Star Mailing List"
(73 min, 'Great Artists')

2001 - "The Cream And Stuff Method"
(72 min, 'Great Artists')


Greg Segal

- Gibson electric guitar & gadgets

  (varied pedals, processors, & Korg multi-effect unit) 

Hyam R. Sosnow

- Ludwig drums & varied percussion instruments

1999 - "1999" *****+


1.  Uncle Sun 2 21:13

2.  Atomic Research 7:53

3.  Elmer Season-I 5:16

4.  MIRV Gryphon 3 14:35

5.  Mach Turtle 5:28

6.  Elmer Season-II 4:37

7.  Under the Bridge 2 17:12

All tracks: by Jugalbandi.

Synopsis. Above all, let me please remind you that Jugalbandi is probably the only outfit performing an improvisational music (and mostly impromptu), which has almost nothing to do with jazz as such, and is probably the only duo whose live performances have a saturated sound without using overdubs. Each time I return to Jugalbandi, I never cease to be astonished at these things. Having listened to "1999" and "Deep Cuts", for the first available to the general public, and, once again, to the three I got before, I found that the band's first two albums are the most structured, coherent and harmonious of them. Indeed, while almost all of the tracks on "1999" consist of ever-changing musical events, the arrangements develop so logically that I rather easily followed them even with my first acquaintance with the album. I like everything on this album, but the longest composition here, the 21-minute opener Uncle Sun, is a definite winner. Here, Jugalbandi's very own, absolutely unique blend of guitar Art-Rock and Space Rock with elements of Space Fusion and Space Metal is much close to my conception of Fifth Element. As usual, Greg uses his multi-effect unit sparingly, and not on all tracks. A confluence of guitar Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion without digressions into spacey dimensions is presented on Atomic Research, Much Turtle, and MIRV Gryphon-3 (2, 4, & 5). By the way, some guitar solos here remind me of Mick Rogers during the heyday of Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Of course, this is just a coincidence, which may occur when musicians have some common ground in their primary training. The music is mostly intensive and dynamic with many guitar solos sounding harsh. Both Greg and Hyam are fantastically inventive and virtuosi players, and it must be heard how Greg contrives to run rhythmic riffs and intricate solos simultaneously! Each of the parts of Elmer Season (3 & 6) features episodes with an amazingly polyphonic sound. The very slow and elongated clean and echoed guitar solos-threads cross each other and those of drums weaving into a strange and intricate, yet, perfect web. Having 'settled' Under the Bridge (7), the duo is back to intensive arrangements. The style, however, is much more materially minded than on any of the previous tracks and is a blend of guitar Art-Rock and Hard Rock slightly flavored by oriental music. Featuring a long separate drum solo, this is my least favorite track on "1999", which is my most favorite Jugalbandi album, at least at present.

VM: April 2, 2004

1999 - "Deep Cuts" *****


1.  MIRV Gryphon I 13:48

2.  Drums Stop 2:57

3.  Uncle Sun 18:26

4.  Clear Day 7:32

5.  MIRV Gryphon II 8:19

6.  Under the Bridge 19:21

All tracks: by Jugalbandi.

Synopsis. This CD contains two tracks from the first Jugalbandi album. These are Uncle Sun and Under the Bridge (3 & 6). But since the band 'can't live' without improvisations, the compositions do not sound like the moulds of their original versions and are in places noticeably heavier than them. In any case, Uncle Sun, as well as the opening piece MIRV Gryphon-I, still contains everything necessary to be considered the work of Fifth Element. Apart from the musical landscapes that are typical for the original edition of Uncle Sun, each of these pieces features those amazing, both very slow and elongated, clean and echoed solos of guitar. Generally however, "Deep Cuts" is heavier and is a bit less intricate than its predecessor. There are Space Rock and Space Fusion-related arrangements on Under the Bridge, Clear Day, and MIRV Gryphon-II (3, 4, & 5), but also are plenty of those typical for Space Metal and even classic Hard Rock and Prog-Metal. The latter two pieces are intensive almost throughout, but unlike the other tracks, comprise recurrences to the past themes. In some ways, they are closer to the first version of Under the Bridge than its 'current incarnation' itself. Finally, Drums Stop (2) is a non-stop drum solo, and that's all. The number, which is typical for Jazz and related things rather than any other genres. There are drum solos on two tracks on the duo's previous effort, but they look OK there, being done in the overall context of a composition, and not on a separate track. In all, "Deep Cuts" is undoubtedly an excellent album, but not a masterpiece. BTW, if Jugalbandi were at least a trio on this recording, it could have easily become one of the best Space Rock-related albums ever made on the planet Earth.

VM: April 4, 2004

2000 - "The View is Better From the Top of the Food Chain" ****+


1. The View is Better From the Top

   of the Food Chain 16:48

2. Moving Towards Kyoto 3:52

3. Edwin Park 2:52

4. Rest Stop 8:25

5. Edwin Park Jam 4:14

6. Reciprocal Demonology 5:27

7. The Toast Beckons 2:46

8. Castle Bravo 23:07

9. Erwin Park Reprise 5:44

All compositions written

by Segal & Sosnow,

except 3 & 9: by Segal.

Synopsis. First, I'd like to dwell on positive aspects of "The View is Better From the Top of the Food Chain" album, as there are a lot of them here. Jugalbandi present in many ways a unique music. In my view, this band is using a very innovative approach in combining a real (rather heavy and truly progressive) Space Rock with the elements of Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. (There are no 'heavy' parts only on Moving Towards Kyoto, which is marked with a slight Eastern feel, and on Rest Stop, which is the only rather monotonous piece on the album.). In fact, many of the arrangements on the album were created impromptu. But although they're really in the constant development throughout the album and don't contain any of the repetitions (even on Rest Stop), none of the solos sound like the free improvisations. (In other words, this music has nothing to do with Jazz and any of the Jazz-related genres.) What is more, most of the solos and arrangements on the album sound like they are thoroughly composed. In that way, the duo's capabilities to create the complete musical forms on the spur of the moment are akin to making the acrobatics and aerobatics. Apart from the said Rest Stop, all of the other pieces on the album are filled with the constant, very diverse and masterful interplay between Greg Segal's multi-sounding electric guitar and Hyam Sosnow's drums and percussion. Most of the compositions, that are featured the album, contain an amazingly effective contrasting episodes where there are slow, dark, Doom Metal-like guitar riffs and solos coincide with fast, intensive drum parts (as on Edwin Park Jam, Reciprocal Demonology, and The Toast Beckons), and vice versa (as on the album's title-track, Edwin Park, and Edwin Park Reprise). The longest instrumental Castle Bravo, - a real killer of the (progressive) Space Rock sub-genre, - is at the same time the only real masterpiece on the album. Only here, Greg uses all of the wonderful possibilities of his multi-effects unit. The dark and tense musical palette of Castle Bravo is full of the repeatedly reverberated echoes, ghostly chords of the "synthesizer", and strange duets, trios, and other interplay between solos of "different guitars" (which, actually, is always the same guitar solo that, being processed by the Korg unit, sounds in fourth, fifth, and other tonalities simultaneously). There is also an episode with the effective use of the echo effect on the album's title-track where there are a new solo appears while the previous one is still taking place. As for all of the remaining tracks, only two instruments are heard on them, despite the fact that the guitar always sounds different. In that way, taking in consideration how wonderfully diverse and innovative the duo work on the majority of the album's tracks, it's clear that "The View is Better From the Top of the Food Chain" would've been the excellent work, at least, if Jugalbandi would had a bassist in their line-up: no matter, if they should have renamed the band then. This unique, very complex and highly progressive music needs just the proper background to be appreciated by the majority of the profound Progressive Rock connoisseurs.

VM. December 26, 2001

2001 - "Yellow Star Mailing List" *****


1. Yellow Star Mailing List 13:31

2. Remembering Precognition 10:54

3. Dreaming In the 9th 3:07

4. Previously Disenchanted 14:44

5. Valley Plaza 2:26

6. Gidget Goes Canine 25:53

7. Valley Plaza Reprise 2:47

All compositions written

by Segal & Sosnow,

except 3: by Segal.

Synopsis. While I was expecting that the second Jugalbandi album is something similar to the previous one, to my surprise, it's turned out to be that "Mailing List..." is much better than "The View is Better..." and the band's "view" from the "Yellow Star" is in many ways different from their "View From the Food Chain" (which would be obvious in reality). Well, I am glad to tell you that it is a keen pleasure to listen to this work (all of the compositions of which are wonderful), especially with the headphones (because this is a real headphone album!). Unlike the first Jugalbandi album, "Yellow Star Mailing List" represents a unique (kind of) fluid Space Rock almost entirely. There are just a couple of the classic (i.e. rather heavy) Space Rock episodes on the album - in the beginning of Remembering Precognition and in the middle of Gidget Goes Canine, to be precise. On the other hand, all of the guitar riffs in both of these episodes are very slow, whereas the soloing guitar go mid-tempo, and the drumming is fast and powerful. All of it sounds extremely innovative, as the other Space Rock bands (such as Hawkwind, Clear Blue Sky, Living Wreck, et al) have never used the slow and dark guitar moves and all of the instruments in their arrangements work on the same tempo (up-tempo, to be precise). There are many of the effective and very impressive contrasting parts on the album (which is typical for Jugalbandi, though), as well as lots of the other essential progressive ingredients, most of which are listed in the previous review. What's especially amazing, Greg Segal uses his multi-effects unit really actively on this album, which is a very significant improvement in comparison to "The View...". This time I can't regret too much about the absence of a bass player in Jugalbandi because most of the compositions on "Yellow Star..." have rather a rich sound. These are: Remembering Precognition, Previously Disenchanted, Valley Plaza Reprise, and especially Gidget Goes Canine. All of these tracks (that, being taken together, are almost the 3/4th of the album) represent a highly complex, diverse and really unique manifestation of one of Progressive's 'chief' sub-genres. The 26-minute Gidget Goes Canine is virtually one of the greatest Space Rock suites ever created. Full of the trios and other interplay between mostly slow and fluid guitar solos, ghostly synth-like chords, and the intensive drumming, this piece is like a mysterious, tense trip to the dark depths of the far spheres of space. (It alone makes the "Yellow Star..." album worthy of getting.) There are some similarities between Gidget Goes Canine and the album's title-track, but the latter is by no means as rich in sound as that real Space Rock monster, as well as the other long pieces and even Valley Plaza Reprise. Both of the remaining tracks, Dreaming In the 9th and Valley Plaza, are very nice pieces of a pure Art-Rock. There are also a few of the Rock-ish themes on the first of them and a slight Spanish feel on the second one. I would rate "Yellow Star Mailing List" as an excellent album if only the possibilities of a wonderful (Korg) multi-effects unit would have been used on all of the tracks here. Next week, let's see what the last Jugalbandi album is about.

VM. December 27, 2001

2001 - "The Cream And Stuff Method" ****+


1. The Cream And Stuff Method 26:20

2. Approaching Readiness 10:51

3. My Yiddishe Boogie 6:26

4. La Bionda 10:17

5. Get out And Walk 18:03

All compositions written by Segal & Sosnow.

Synopsis. Stylistically, a blend of improvisational yet completely structured Space Rock and spacey Art Rock is what the duo's third album is about (as well as in case of Jugalbani's previous work). Well, (once again) as well as in the case of both of Jugalbandi previous albums, the music here is almost always in the constant development, while the compositional and performing skills of Greg Segal and Hyam Sosnow are topnotch, as always. As for the consistency of sound on "The Cream And Stuff Method" album, here is the picture. Thanks to the effective use of multi effect unit, La Bionda (track 4) is especially rich in diverse arrangements, and actually is the album's only track that can remind one of a real band effort. It is filled with solos and interplay between real and unreal guitars (including even a bass!). All of them often sound simultaneous yet most of their parts are amazingly different. Of course, the drumming is also a very important part of this piece. Regarding the richness of the sound, Approaching Readiness & Get Out and Walk (tracks 2 & 5) are also very good compositions. However, in both of them Greg uses mostly the echo effects, whereas the work of the multi-effect unit is heard just sometimes. Also, while the last track is a real Space Rock piece, Approaching Readiness consists of the varied spacey and psychedelic sounds almost entirely. The album's title-track, which is the longest piece here, is a festival of compositional inventiveness and performing mastery. The only drawback of this piece, is in my view, still the lack of using of the multi-effect unit: it works here just in certain places. My Yiddishe Boogie (track 3) is the only piece on the album in which the duo sounds really like a duo from the first to the last note. (Also, this is the only Art-Rock-ish composition on the album.) Now it's time to return to the arrangements that are "almost always in the constant development". A long and wonderful, kind of symphonic guitar solo is heard on My Yiddish Boogie twice. Of course, that has nothing to do with any drawbacks, etc, and I've noticed that just because this is the single instance in the creation of Jugalbandi. As for "The Cream And Stuff Method", it is almost as good as the previous one.

VM. December 29, 2001

Conclusion. Thinking of the duo's creation as a whole, I find it not only truly progressive, but in many ways unique and innovative as well. Both Greg Segal and Hyam Sosnow are very gifted composers and musicians. Their highly complex music is also so interesting that it seizes the attention entirely while listening to it. Of course, it would be better if Greg would had used his multi-track unit on each of the compositions by the duo, but all Prog-lovers will have to admit that Jugalbandi's music is excellent already as it is as soon as they listen to it. So if you're adventurous enough and the lack of a full-blooded band sound doesn't confuse you, check Jugalbandi out.

Related Links:


Read an overall review on the Greg Segal solo albums here.


ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages