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Roland Gassin - 2008 - "Electrode"

(64:33, Great Winds Records)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Get up Baby 6:03
2.  No Surrender 5:16
3.  66 5:05
4.  Octobre 6:07
5.  TGV Blues 3:57
6.  Mandarine 7:30
7.  75 7:04
8.  Miss Peel 5:40
9.  Au Lait 4:58
10. Tadoussac 8:00
11. Changer le Monde-I 3:19
12. Changer le Monde-II 4:34


Roland Gassin  guitars; keyboards; vocals
Arnaud Decompoix  bass 
Stephane Sangline  drums 
Pierre Payet  saxophone 

Prolusion. Roland GASSIN is a French multi-instrumentalist and composer who was born in 1968. In 2003 he released his first album "Eclectric" himself, and 2 years later the production "Mouvance" followed. After being signed to the French label Musea Records, his third CD "Electrode" was issued by their jazz and fusion sub-label Great Winds in 2008.

Analysis. Gassin has a love for many different styles of music and you don't have to read up on that on his homepage to grasp it. Indeed, after listening to the first two tracks on this creation you really have to wonder what's in store next, as the album kicks off with a number that has strong leanings towards modern pop music in general and dance music in particular, before taking a straight left turn towards a composition starting out as an ambient soundscape before evolving into a distinct 70s sounding fusion affair with funky leanings. The rest of this album doesn't continue this extreme contrast in styles thankfully, and the foundation for this production is a slick variety of jazz-rock and fusion with a very much 70s influenced sound. Dreamy, wandering guitar soloing underscored by undistorted electric or acoustic guitar licks, jazz-tinged bass, piano and drum patterns with at least half a beat inside jazz territories is a good general description of most songs here, and if you add in some sax soloing with the same style to it you're pretty much there. However, Gassin does venture out towards other genres quite a bit too, even if only moderately so on most tracks. The addition of blues-tinged guitar solo elements, a song with some Dire Straits-flavored guitar explorations, and frequent, although rarely dominating, electronic sounds are utilized too as examples of what happens to a greater or smaller extent on quite a few occasions. Floating synth layers of the kind often found in progressive rock are a more regular feature, and layered guitars where slick riffs and licks are mixed with soloing and acoustic guitar parts is another facet to these songs that transport them away from the most conservative jazz-rock territories. Still, Gassin's heart and soul is rather firmly placed in fusion - he knows and loves his jazz and is rather creative at times as to what styles he mixes it with for his version of the fusion genre, but not to the extent that he ventures far out from familiar territories. Indeed, apart from minor elements, many of these compositions could have been made and performed almost as they are back in the 70's.

Conclusion. Fans and followers of fusion should be a core audience for this production. Gassin does explore some rather peculiar versions of the genre at times, but there are plenty of passages, themes and compositions for the crowd into the 70s version of this style to enjoy as well, in particular those who enjoy the more mainstream-oriented manifestation of it.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 10, 2008
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Musea Records
Roland Gassin


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