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CHON - 'CHON' Album Review


1. Ghost

2. Cloudy

3. Gift

4. Visit

5. Petal

6. Pitch Dark

7. Rosewood

8. If

9. Spike

10. Dead Ends

11. Thanks

12. Peace

CHON... Instrumental Progressive Math Rock... sounds torturous I thought when I read the Wikipedia page for this California quartet (ever the pessimist). Then I listened to their upcoming album 'CHON', within the first track I was falling in love with this quirky, incredibly polished almost jazzy music, the two guitarists are absolutely masterful in their playing throughout and, well with a frontline that clever you know the backline is going to be just as good, while there are no brass or keyboard instrumentalists in the band these tonalities are hinted at in some truly beautiful and smart ways by the guitar effects employed (although in fact, the instruments are predominantly clean throughout).

There are an inordinate number of highlights in this all too short collection of instrumentals and to mention them all would be to take some of the joy of listening for them from you, the reader, I'm a nice guy so I won't be doing that, but I'll point out some things, lead single Pitch Dark's intro nods at some classical (or Tenacious D) influences with a burst of what certainly sounds akin to Bach to me in there, so there's undoubtedly a lot of diverse influences on the table with CHON, there's definitely a great deal of pleasure available simply sitting and listening to the music on this album and I guess there's no greater compliment one can pay an instrumental band. This is by no means the beginning of CHON's career (and doubtless this reviewer will find himself drifting through the back-catalogue once this review is complete) this is reflected in the quality of the impeccably well-constructed collection of instrumentals on this album, there are fascinating sonic textures throughout evoking a variety of ideas in my mind as I listen. Moving seamlessly between flowing motifs and staccato off-kilter time signature rhythms and blistering unison runs, there seems to be little this band is incapable of bringing to bear in their music. There seems to this listener to be a Jazz sensibility underpinning this music, I do, certainly hear Math and Progressive in here too but there's more of a sense of Jazz, in the vein of perhaps an idealised vision of the Jazz Fusion concept which emerged with the likes of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report in the early '70s. There's the inevitable sense that this must at least in part be a pre-written and well-rehearsed collection of pieces of music but one gets the feeling that this band has the capacity, should the mood take them, to go off the deep end and improvise with the best of them.

So, it turns out that "Instrumental Progressive Math Rock" is in fact a gloriously comforting, fascinating easily repeated listen for me, if you like Prog-Rock, Jazz, any of the more skilled Rock guitar virtuosos, or heck, if you just don't want to try and decipher the lyrics but prefer to decipher the intricacies of incredibly detailed music then CHON could very well be the album/band for you.

Review - Mike McLaughlin

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