Marbin: Breaking the Cycle

The second album from the Chicago, by way of Israel, duo Marbin finds them expanding the band’s line up. Added now to the roster are a bassists, drummer and percussionist. Having already deftly mastered the layering of sound on their first album via multi-tracking, the enlarged ensemble allows for more sonic possibilities occurring with a live feel. From their last album to this current one should not be seen as a radical departure but just a further evolution using to great effect the different device of other players.
Loopy starts off with tribal sounding drums sounding out the beat under some fat synthesizer like lines. Here the band shows that it can draw inspiration from sources such as the Robert Fripp/Adrian Belew era King Crimson while avoiding some of the more indulgent aspects that could come to the fore with progressive rock. There is a rapid fire soprano sax solo by Danny Markovitch which forgoes the nasal cadence sometimes utilized by players and is bolstered by the switch of emphasis in the rhythm from tribal tom-tom beat to cymbal work. Both Jamey Haddad (percussion) and Paul Wertico (drums) are able to tightly weave their percussive patterns together which give the piece not just a greater sonic complexity but also mass and density while avoiding sounding like merely pulses of sound. The guitar solo by Dani Rabin which closes out the song has the classic overdriven tube amp cadence and has a forward thrust momentum furthered by the rest of the band and despite its virtuosity never seems overly fussy. Although the song starts off in the more traditional band sounding mode it climaxes with the dense layering of sound that made their first album so enjoyable. The tension is resolved at the songs finish by the initial theme and melody being re-instated.
Aside from their just music being genre defying, on parts of different pieces the band likes to sometimes blur the distinction of an instrument’s identity, the cadence of a lead line being possibly midi-guitar or synthesizer. They will then add the more easy to recognize voices to that which keeps the listener invested in the song as it allows for the maintaining of an overall organicness.
A Serious Man starts with a samba flavored percussion and legato sax. Steve Rodby’s bass has a full tone which manages to really fill out the song while remaining subtly below the main action of the sax’s lines and doubled up guitar, which strums in a more traditional jazz sounding idiom and also Gitane finger picking style. As with a lot of pieces in their oeuvre, this piece has a cinematic feel. One could imagine a deco hotel lobby with well turned out guests looking at each other sideways waiting for the mystery to play out.
Mom’s Song starts with a vocalese and sort of guitar mélange that radiates aspects of 60’s folk and 50’s ballad-twang type of an atmosphere. The song has a deceptively simple melodic structure, the enjoyment of which becomes apparent by the piece’s ability to sort of seem timeless in regards to its duration. It is not the most dramatic song to be found on the album but one of the best examples of the luscious headphone landscape to be traversed as subtle electro blips and bass swells among other things become more apparent with headphones.
Bar Stomp is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It is raucous blues which upon first listen is a showcase for guitar but the duel drums’ rhythmic pattern upon repeated listens proves to be equally as impressive as they lock into a groove. The song shows the change brought about by the addition of more band members. Dani and Danny can continue using their innate talent of painting their sonic collages with overdubbing but now with a further expanded palette brought about by the presence of musical confreres.
Burning Match again returns to the cinematic, the soprano sax sounding slightly like a clarinet and with the noir strolling bass intro giving the feeling of a Poirot like hero contemplating the mystery or maybe just a women. The song morphs with the introduction of a sustain heavy guitar, still image rich but perhaps turning the movie into a double feature of which this is the second part.
The Old Silhouette starts with a soft voiced soprano statement and percussion beating out an arabesque type of pattern. The guitar comes in with the flinty cadence of a good white wine, verging at times on sounding like lap steel played through a vintage tube amplifier. The song has a sort of desert vibe to it, is the old silhouette that of the sphinx or maybe merely the equally as old dunes themselves. This song shows how seamlessly the new members have been both integrated and utilized to further the artistic evolution of a new and worthwhile band.
The album clocks in at 43 minutes long and as was the case with their debut stands up to repeated listening. A lot of newer bands that embrace jazz or at least some aspects of it rely on mannerisms more than a style; from album to album the songs may change but not the execution. They also avoid any sense of gimmick, clearly there is some rock in their roots but there is no attempt at novelty by attempting Beatle or Nirvana covers. Here is a band who holds steady to their vision while avoiding repetition and allowing the audience to witness their growth.

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