"AN ALBUM WITH SEVERAL MUSICAL FACES”- Henri Strik Background Magazine https://www.backgroundmagazine.nl/CDreviews/ClintBahrPuzzlebox.html
Tuesday 25 July, 2023
The musical offering from Clint Bahr (tambura, voice, bass, guitar, keyboards, baglama, flute, percussion, kazoo, piano), who in PUZZLEBOX is accompanied by a series of musicians, very skilled in supporting the many ideas of the former TriPod member (trio that published their eponymous debut in 2003 on Moonjune Records).
Bahr’s return takes place in style, a crossover of progressive, jazz rock and psychedelia free and varied, articulated by superb collaborations, starting from "New Design", in which we find Mike Hough on drums and Jeff Schiller on horns (sax and clarinet).
Many instruments accompany Clint Bahr in the record. Just listen to the improvisation of "Plate" (Marilyn Crispell on piano, Dick Griffin on trombone, the enormous sound of Mike Hough on drums, and Dan Parkington on violin) or "Shelter" (Bahr in trio with Billy Ficca on drums and Dick Griffin on trombone). These impose trace coordinates ranging from King Crimson to Captain Beefheart, passing through Canterbury and progressive jazz, elements that we also find in the free textures of "As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat" (with the contribution of David Jackson of Van der Graaf Generator).
The construction of "Fall From Grace" is brilliant, while the violin of David Cross (King Crimson) marks "Triangles Circles & Squares", before the final "Tabula Rasa 2", which is linked to the initial first part that opened the work (as Dan Parkington moves safely to the sitar, while Jackson and Cross alternate in the two sections).
It is impossible to mention all the artists involved in the project - the advice is to buy the album to better appreciate the many names involved by Bahr in his PUZZLEBOX.
May 25, 2023
Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Clint Bahr is behind this rock band, PUZZLEBOX. Some insiders may know the musician from his time in the bands TriPod, Andromeda, and Flash . For this eponymous album, the protagonist invited a number of illustrious guests, such as David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator), David Cross (King Crimson) and the late Peter Banks (Yes) from the Prog Rock area. But jazz musicians are also on board, including pianist Marilyn Crispell and trombonist Dick Griffin.
Well, that actually sounds quite promising in terms of the outcome. A look at the track list shows that Bahr presents songs of different lengths. Between short pieces ("Oslo" with 1:10 minutes) and long ones ("As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat" with 10:48 minutes) we usually find playing times of rather short duration. This could suggest that an attempt was made to accommodate different musical shades, especially since quite different instruments are used in each case.
For example, if a tambura and a sitar sound on "Tabula Rasa 1", or a Mellotron and saxophone on "New Design", the long piece mentioned above is performed with the two jazz musicians. An oboe rings out on "Lifeguard In The Rain" and David Cross bows the violin on "Tabula Rasa 2".
"Tabula Rasa 1" sounds like an introduction of sorts and the two Indian instruments (above) are supported by David Jackson on flutes. Actually, this exotic vibe is carried over to the second track, "New Design". It sounds a bit Arabic, with a heavy rhythm and Bahr provides the vocals. And this is where my first association inevitably appears, I think I hear a fusion of various songs by King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. In any case, fans of those bands could certainly get enthusiastic about this song.
Jazz fans should enjoy those numbers with support from Crispell and Griffin (#3, 4, 5, 7), because here the improvisation is quite loose, sometimes with very free passages from the pianist. On "Shelter", it's the band boss himself, however, who sets powerful accents with his three different basses. It gurgles so powerfully that a thick note of Prog creeps in, but here again it's free musical parts that loosen up this composition.
Of course, these free parts fall on fertile ground in the longest song, "As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat (Improv)", which already breathes strongly avant-garde traits and makes the music absolutely 'uncomfortable' for some listeners. David Jackson also joins the free improvisation and gives leash... In short - my favorite piece! But – all 'proggies' and rockers are advised to be careful! I'd recommend "Kicking The Wasp's Nest" to this clientele and friends of King Crimson.
Just as meditatively as the record began, it ends with "Tabula Rasa 2". The two songs stand like two bookends and hold the whole thing together with these mystically calm carpets of sound... Yes, the work is very unusual, there hasn't been anything comparable in this way for a long time. I am happy to have heard and experienced that. My rating: 'Very special'!
(8 1/2 Stars)
Fantastic - it's going to roll right into my fav albums.
Clint Bahr was vocalist, bassist and multi-instrumentalist of the band TriPod, the fourth CD to be released by the Moonjune label. Clint now releases an album with several collaborators, containing twelve tracks that defy simple and single description. We go from rock, to progressive rock, to experimental, through punk, to improvisation. We will hear passages that will remind us of Beefheart, King Crimson, Sex Pistols, Van der Graaf and, in some tracks, this will not happen separately, but in a fused way.
The improvisations have their roots in free jazz and remind us of Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders or more modern jazz masters. However "Lifeguard In The Rain" is an acoustic guitar song that could have been written by a folk band or by Peter Hammill. Sublime!
The album opens and closes with two ragas, in which some of our prog rock heroes shine! The group of stars that appear here is also to be admired. An album to listen to with an open mind and to be prepared for many good surprises!
February 12, 2023
Sea of Tranquility
“ARTISTIC FLAIR FOR COMPLETE CHAOS & IMPROVISATIONAL WEIRDNESS”
Multi-instrumentalist Clint Bahr formed the New York based power trio TriPod in the early 2000s and released a self-titled debut in 2003. So, it has indeed been a long time since we have heard from the artist. In March of 2022 Bahr released Puzzlebox on Moonjune Records. It is interesting to note TriPod was one of the first albums released on the label, so it only seems fitting that the relationship has continued.
Puzzlebox is a very diverse album, indicative of the many players adding their expertise and influence on the album’s twelve tracks.
Peter Banks (RIP), David Jackson, David Cross, and Colin Carter, just to name a few. The music is a combination of composed and improvised tracks, highlighted by the completely improvised eleven minute “As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat”, one of the more bizarre tracks I have heard all year. This one might be a little too free form for my tastes although it does demonstrate an artistic flair for complete chaos and improvisational weirdness.
The first track “Tabula Rasa 1” takes us to India with its exotic sounding sitar, courtesy of Dan Parkington, flutes from David Jackson, and Bahr’s tambura. The stringed instruments give a metallic sound, sometimes angular, sometimes softer and serene. “New Design” melds rock, prog, and fusion, very rhythmic, with starts and stops, heavy bass, interrupted by blasts of intense sounds. Eventually wild saxophone takes it into the avant-garde. Again, there is an Indian theme at play. “Plate” is an improvisational piece featuring tangential instrumentation where the trombone creates some truly bizarre sounds. “Shelter” is a cool mix of heavy bass rhythms and urgent drumming with a Beatles-like segue way into eclectic weirdness. Bahr’s endearing vocals makes this an excellent and strangely addictive rock tune. The growling bass and jerky rhythms in the punk rock meets prog “Fall From Grace”, and the tasty acoustic guitar in the melodic “Lifeguard In The Rain” are two more reasons to give this album a listen.
Interesting, innovative, and catchy, Puzzlebox will offer more than its fair share of exhilarating moments. For those reasons, it should be a part of any eclectic music collection.
January 31, 2023
Baby Blaue Seitan
“DIVERSE SONIC TREASURE TROVE”
An album whose perception depends entirely on the expectation with which one approaches it. Sympho-proggers and lovers of harmonic sounds should be more than grateful. But if you are armed with a certain free spirit and musical adventure and have a certain fondness for the "freer" moments of King Crimson, for example, you can look forward to an album for a few hours.
The variety of sounds and the expression of each individual instrument is exciting - both so pronounced that no piece even remotely resembles the other. Also occasionally interspersed vocals, which make an effort to create a melody and actually remind me of the unwieldy David Bowie, don't give the album anything that could be described as "catchy." Siggy already mentions it in his review - Clint Bahr and his sprawling staff stand may well be based on King Crimson and the Canterbury pioneers and that drives wild sound blooms.
Admittedly - on some evenings this disc would leave me rather at a loss, possibly quickly taking me to the limits of my musical resilience. But on other nights, when you feel like listening to something completely different than usual and getting involved, Puzzlebox is definitely an exciting experiment. The fact that Bahr was able to get names like David Cross (ex-King Crimson) or David Jackson (ex-Van der Graaf Generator) for this should speak volumes, especially because these two on the violin and various wind instruments show that they are good at Crimson and Van der Graaf had by no means already explored all tonal boundaries. And they have numerous comrades-in-arms on trumpet, clarinet, piano and percussion who want to do the same.
I can think of many contemporaries who, with a track like As Timpani Melt In The Greek Heat, would anxiously ask when the band will finally have tuned their instruments to the end and whether the music will start soon when the cat is no longer at the piano keyboard running. Well, music is not necessarily a reliable indicator of the state of mind of the protagonists or listeners, and such chamber music experiments can be a real test of patience as well as a diverse sonic treasure trove.
Describing Puzzlebox - I've tried to some extent. Rating this album is impossible for me. But it is also unnecessary, because it is exciting and demanding and is also wonderfully spatially recorded, so a real treat for hi-fi fans. You just have to trust yourself!
January 30, 2023
“DARK, DRAMATIC & OMINOUS JOURNEYS”
Clint Bahr: Puzzlebox (2022) - mini-review
Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages
RATING: 12 out of 15
INIMITATBLE CRASHING MONSTER BASS, NOISY PSYCHDELIC AVANT-PUNK PROG & JAZZY PROGRESSIVE
Puzzlebox" back in the spring of 2022, and progressive rock is probably the best manner in which to define this album. This is a production that cover a lot of ground, and the opening and concluding Eastern psychedelic drones aren't the only creations here that are strikingly different from the material found elsewhere. In between minimalist and more dramatic excursions into a more free form jazz landscape we also get a good handful of dark, dramatic and ominous journeys into some distinct avant-oriented territories, with as well as without elements pulled in from the jazz universe. Gentler atmospheric laden constructions and dramatic aggressive material exist side by side here, as do melodies and harmonies with noise and chaotic surges. A production that should be satisfying for those who treasure an eclectic album experience explored within a more distinct avant-oriented framework.US artist Clint Bahr released the album "
January 29, 2023
“STYLISTIC PRIMORDIAL CHAOS”
RATING: 11 out of 15
There’s a lot of information raining down on us. Years ago, the multi-instrumentalist told me that he was working on something that unites musicians from big acts like Yes, King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. The years went by and somehow I lost sight of that. Now "Puzzlebox" is an album that features colleagues like David Jackson (ex-VdGG), David Cross (ex-King Crimson) and also the late Peter Banks (Yes, 'Kicking The Wasp's Nest'). But that's not all. With almost a dozen colleagues, including Colin Carter (Flash), Dick Griffin, Marilyn Crispell and Mike Hough (Flash), a small "Who’s Who" of jazz and progressive rock is represented here.
Thus, Clint Bahr can draw from the entirety and present an album that reflects the spirit of optimism of the early seventies, whereby the stylistic primordial chaos also indicates the caliber of those involved here. Between heavy Crimson prog ('Fall From Grace', 'New Design'), improvised free jazz ('Plate', 'As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat') and world music ('Tabula Rasa'), the collective rushes back and forth, whereby ultimately everything can be summarized under the term progressive rock (in the actual, pure sense). Whether the early death of Peter Banks, of whom the majority of his band Flash is represented here, had something to do with the fact that the band project then became "only" a solo album, would still have to be clarified. It would have been exciting in this constellation. Meanwhile, “Puzzlebox,” true to its title, is to be pieced together by the listener to create something great.
Baby Blaue Seitan
“STRENUOUS SOPHISTICATED ALBUM”
RATING: 12 out of 15
INIMITATBLE CRASHING MONSTER BASS, NOISY PSYCHDELIC AVANT-PUNK PROG & JAZZY PROGRESSIVE
Puzzlebox" (the title of the album) is the bass player and singer (and actually also multi-instrumentalist) Clint Bahr, who appeared very positively on our website in 2003 as a member of the unusual trio TriPod.It's always amazing what kind of musical sweethearts you can discover. The project leader of the present "
Although 16 musicians were involved in "Puzzlebox", Clint Bahr was able to use three to five of them with such instinctive confidence in the respective piece that I constantly have the impression of listening to a small and very unerring avant-prog line-up.
Guests include David Cross (ex-King Crimson), David Jackson (ex-Van der Graaf Generator), Mike Hough (ex-Flash), Colin Carter (ex-Flash) and Peter Banks (ex-Yes, ex-Flash). Banks hasn't actually been with us since 2013. Apparently, there is at least one guitar solo of his still dormant in the archives, which was used belatedly for "Kicking the Wasp's Nest".
There's also the flyer's promising statement that "Puzzlebox" aims to revive the spirit of King Crimson's "Lizard", that of Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica" and the Canterbury sound of the '70s. Best of all, my impression is that once you've listened to "Puzzlebox" a few times, the bold statement in the flyer doesn't seem all that absurd.
Pianist Marilyn Crispell was part of an Anthony Braxton combo line-up. The trombonist Dick Griffin played with numerous jazz greats. The free input from the two -- as well as some from David Jackson -- can really convey a bit of the “Lizard's” spirit.
The concept of "Puzzlebox" includes psychedelic world music passages, Clint Bahr's inimitable crashing monster bass, the noisy psychedelic avant-punk prog and the jazzy progressive jams. The latter sometimes seem like trying to take the Canterbury sound or the concept of King Crimson's "Lizard" further in an avant-garde direction. "Shelter" combines chanson and noise rock with the charm of vaudeville. Lifeguard in the Rain might remind you of early David Bowie from the “Hunky Dory” era.
While direct similarities may be limited, especially with Captain Beefheart, Puzzlebox should still appeal to the same audiences who appreciate Captain Beefheart's “Trout Mask Replica” and King Crimson's “Lizard.”
After about twenty years since TriPod, Clint Bahr, the virtuoso of the bass, re-presents with a new project that combines magmatic improvisations, as in best of the 70s, and prog tracks masterfully arranged. Guests: David Jackson, David Cross and Peter Banks.
August 25, 2022
George W. Harris
“ELECTRONICA MIXING WITH AURAL JOURNEYS”
While not quite a one man band, Clint Bahr plays a wide variety of instruments, including but not limited 12/8/4 string basses, tambura, acoustic guitars, Chapman Stick, E-Bow and even bringing in Voice and Mellotron as he mixes and matches various guests for some clever sonic atmospheres. Indian landscapes area created with Dan Parkington’s sitar and David Jackson’s flute for “Tabula Rasa 1” and “2” while a mix of head banging metal shows up on the hard hitting “Fall From Grace” and “Shelter”. Wondrous space effects and splashy tones are created with a “paintbrush” bass, Marilyn Crispell’s piano and Dick Griffin’s trombone as part of “Plate with Mike Hough digging a deep groove on “Belt and Braces”. Electronica mixing with aural journeys to various lands and islands.
“A MASTERFUL COLLECTION OF ENGAGING AND DIVERSE TUNES”
Clint Bahr — Puzzlebox
My first encounter with Clint Bahr was almost twenty years ago in the lobby at Baja Prog; before their set he was bragging that his trio, TriPod, would be the loudest band that ever played at Baja. Less than halfway through their set I found myself back in the lobby among a group of friends, sporting a headache from the sheer volume and in full agreement with what Mr. Bahr had said. A considerable amount of time has passed since that Baja performance, and in the interim it seems that Bahr has come to the realization that louder is not always better. To be sure, Bahr’s latest Puzzlebox does contain some noisy, heavy rock sounds, but it also contains far more than that, wandering through jazz improv and other explorative sounds with a variety of guest players including David Cross, Colin Carter, Marilyn Crispell, David Jackson, Jeff Schiller, the late Peter Banks (a sure indicator that this album was many years in the making), plus numerous others.
For his part, Bahr composed all of the tracks (with the exception of the three improv pieces), wrote the lyrics, sings, and played all manner of basses (4, 8, and 12 string), plus bass pedals, Chapman stick, acoustic guitar, tambura, harmonium, keyboards, Mellotron, percussion, and more. Seems that besides a drum kit, the odd guitar solo, violin, brass and woodwinds, Bahr could have played almost everything here. Drummer Billy Ficca (Television) features on several of the cuts, and Mike Hough (ex-Flash) on others. The set opens and closes with the two-part instrumental “Tabula Rasa” featuring Bahr on tamboura, Dan Parkington on sitar, and David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator) on flute (Part 1) and David Cross (King Crimson) on violin on Part 2. Very nice, indeed, with the opener setting the stage for the heavy vocal number “New Design” that follows. Something that sounds like a Fripp-less Crimson – Van der Graaf mash up with a full wind section all played by Schiller.
The three improvisations are “Plate,” “As Tympani Melt in the Greek Heat” and “Triangles, Circles and Squares,” the first two featuring Bahr, Hough, Dick Griffin (trombone), and Marilyn Crispell (piano), the second adds David Jackson (winds) for almost eleven minutes, and the third is the trio of Bahr, David Cross (violins), and Schiller on bass clarinet, over and done in a mere two minutes; the three improvs all embrace a free-jazz sound to one degree or another. Other standouts include “Lifeguard in the Rain,” a gentle tune featuring Bahr on vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, and harmonium, with Schiller on oboe, and “Kicking the Wasps Nests,” a brutally heavy rocker featuring Ficca at the kit, Schiller on saxes, a guitar solo by Peter Banks (RIP) and Bahr singing and playing everything else.
Puzzlebox is nothing short of a masterful collection of engaging and diverse tunes.
June 14, 2022
Echoes and Dust
“AN ENORMOUS STICK OF DYNAMITE THAT IS READY TO EXPLODE!”
Puzzlebox by Clint Bahr
Hard to believe, but it’s been nearly 20 years since Clint Bahr released his 2003 release, TriPod. They were one of the earliest releases from MoonJune Records after Clint’s band was discovered at New York’s Punk club, CBGB’s in 1998. TriPod was a band that crossed over between punk, RIO, and the Belew-era of Crimson. Now in 2022, Bahr has a new project called Puzzlebox.
Puzzlebox is the latest release from MoonJune. It is Clint’s next adventure combining improvisations and compositional arrangements to the core. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t second guess itself by pushing the envelope as far as Clint can go. And to be allowed to have Peter Banks, David Cross, Billy Ficca, Mike Hough, and David Jackson to name a few, they know they got Clint’s back to bring Puzzlebox to life.
‘As Tympani Melt in The Greek Heart’ is one of the most insane improvisations that Bahr gives his musicians, carte blanche. It goes from the Land of the Rising Sun, Crispell’s nod to Mike Garson’s playing during the Aladdin Sane sessions, and a massive duelling attack between Jackson and Griffin.
You can tell Bahr isn’t just going to make a “Prog-Rock” album, but an album that will give you nightmares for the rest your life. Combining Univers Zero, Stomu Yamashta, and Magma’s arrangements with Vander conducting the whole piece. But it’s ‘New Design’ that bursts through the flood gates.
Bahr transforms his Bass into a cat-and-mouse trap not knowing who will be captured as his vocals becomes this combination between Alice Cooper and Peter Hammill doing a jam session together. It has a steampunk approach that Hough and Schiller create at the turn of the 20th century. But with a middle eastern mellotron midsection, Bahr is like a mad scientist creating a massive shitload of an experiment that is waiting to be unveiled.
‘Shelter’ sees Clint going for a doom turned dystopian fantasy with horrific details. Crossing over the sounds of Black Sabbath, Television, and BigElf’s music, Ficca gets down to business as he brings all these militant turned power housing sounds right into the front of your own living room.
Both ‘Belts & Braces’ and ‘Triangles, Circles, & Squares’ go for the Rock In Opposition movement, Wigwam’s Fairyport-era, Keith Tippett, and Crimson’s Red-era teaming up with the sax sections from Magma as Cross’ violin section, makes their instrument transform into vicious, hungry, snarling beasts with an appetite for human flesh!
But Bahr calls for the spirit of Peter Banks to give one last hurrah for a punky attitude by ‘Kicking the Wasps Nests’. Banks’ ghost-like solo brings attitude and calling to the gods while chiller lays down brutal attacks on his tenor sax to make the journey home.
Now when you think of Puzzlebox, I ain’t talkin’ about Clive Barker’s box from the horror classic Hellraiser, but Bahr’s vision of Puzzlebox is an ear-listening challenge that is ready to burst the door down so hardcore, there’s no escape from it. MoonJune scores another home run with Bahr’s Puzzlebox coming to life.
And it is an enormous stick of dynamite that is ready to explode!
“Whipping up a frenzy that doesn't know bounds or boundaries.”
CLINT BAHR/Puzzlebox: In which we find the prog bass ace rounding up pals from all the prog bands that mattered and whipping up a frenzy that doesn't know bounds or boundaries. Refuting the punks claim that these are dinosaurs with dust on them, who's still standing all these years later? Flights of fancy is where this set begins.
“STRENUOUS SOPHISTICATED ALBUM”
No light fare, which Clint Bahr serves us. On Puzzlebox meet world music, (Free) Jazz, King Crimson and Van der Graaf generator on top of each other. On its strenuous sophisticated album play such prominent guests as, for example Peter Banks (Yes), David Cross (King Crimson) or David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator). If you like it a little bit dissonant and improvised, should risk an ear.
“THE DREAM OF A GREAT ARTIST, MADLY SOPHISTICATED BUT STILL ACCESSIBLE”
Clint Bahr proves his artistic genius - ubiquitous, and a notable multi-instrumentalist - throughout his new 12 track solo album lasting 45’13’’, with 50% improvisation and 50% composition.
Clint BAHR, composer-lyricist, does the vocals, excels at 12/8/4 String Basses with Chapman Stick dexterity, and plays: Acoustic Guitars, Mandolin, Piano, Harmonium, Mellotron, Theremin, Tamboura, Percussion, Moog Taurus Pedals, Megaphone, Kazoo, Slide Whistle, and Toms. After his 2003 album TriPod, here he is again at the peak of prog with PUZZLEBOX, augmented by a collaboration of twelve artists from around the world, a cross-fertilization of instruments and diverse talents, built on improvisations that go beyond erudite.
PUZZLEBOX recalls the Prog-Rock of albums as unchained and extraordinary as LIZARD from KING CRIMSON and TROUT MASK REPLICA by CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, with a bit of Canterbury reincarnation. A multi-faceted timeless epic, perfectly arranged and produced, accommodating arrangements reminiscent of UNIVERS ZERO, STOMU YAMASHTA, and MAGMA.
PUZZLEBOX is the dream of a great artist, madly sophisticated but still accessible in its immersive sound mosaic, an intellectual and emotional masterpiece, divinely blurring styles, carefully assembled but at the same time unpredictable, welded into a tight knit, articulate, expert whole.
This cave of treasures with a progressive spirit awaits you with PUZZLEBOX. “Tabula Rasa 1” [2’23’’] opens its inexhaustible vitality with rhythms and melody with the remarkable collaboration of David JACKSON [woodwinds], (VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR) with his charming, free, and cheerful flute, Dan PARKINGTON [sitar and violin], (ANDROMEDA) at sitar adding color with his delicious technique, twirling in the ephemeral stylings of the flute, and the flights of fancy of the viola and violin. Clint Bahr is at the Tambura expanding all the elegance of this high-level ensemble. The flutes of David JACKSON embroider his hypnotic stripes in lace.
“New Design” [5’47’’] is imbued with the refined percussion of Mike HOUGH (FLASH), Drums & Cymbals reminiscent of sounds from Asia, with the added soft song vocals of BAHR’S chameleon-like Richard SINCLAIR, easily complementing ALICE COOPER and Peter HAMMILL jamming together. And with a midsection of Mellotron from the Middle East, Clint BAHR is an enchanting scientist creating a phenomenal surprise that unfolds even as you listen. Jeff SCHILLER [woodwinds] (THE ROOTS) makes an exalted appearance on his rich Baritone Saxophone, tortured, then playful on the Tenor Sax and sardonic on the Clarinet.
The whole evolves towards a marriage of dissonances overflowing with symphonic and lyrical touches. “Plate” [7’52’’], a wonderful improvisation with Marilyn CRISPELL at the Piano (Anthony BRAXTON), Dick GRIFFIN at Trombone (SUN RA), Dan PARKINGTON on Violin, Mike HOUGH on Drums & Cymbals, Clint Bahr on the Chapman Stick, 12-String Bass, and Percussion.
We note two other improvisations like “Plate”: “As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat” [10’48’’] which adds David JACKSON on Woodwinds & FX; and “Triangles, Circles & Squares” [2’13’’] in which David Cross (KING CRIMSON) plays beautiful Violins, and Jeff SCHILLER joins on Bass Clarinet, also evoking CRIMSON from the RED era, in osmosis with the Violin of David CROSS.
These three monumental tableaux succeed in offering brilliant meticulous work, demonstrating to a high degree the agility and spontaneity of free jazz. These three monumental works succeed in offering a brilliant punctilious work, demonstrating agility and spontaneity quite in a situation of free jazz to a high degree. The three disconcerting compositions are played with frankness and passion. The piano finds the tone, and the wind instruments in their idealized interpretation of valor and virtuosity are simply audacious. The accompaniment of the strings is a model of endearing qualities that flatter the ear. Vivid colorful notes played with velocity and precision attacks. A grand unique moment of splendor. These three improvisations are borderline crazy, where Clint Bahr gives himself and his musicians carte blanche. From the country of the rising sun, from the wink of Marilyn CRISPELL to Mike GARSON’s playing during sessions of BOWIE’S ALADDIN SANE, to a massive duel between David JACKSON and Dick GRIFFIN.
The 4th track “Shelter” [3’59’’] is a sweet warm whirlwind with a scent of festivity in daring dialogues with Clint BAHR alternating on vocals, Basses 12/8/4, 8-String Bass FX solo, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonium, Megaphone, Kazoo, Slide Whistle, and Percussion. A fantasy incorporating the sounds of BLACK SABBATH, TELEVISION, and BIGELF, underscored by the fearless interpretation of Billy FICCA (TELEVISION) on Drums & Cymbals, transforms sounds into electrical boxes. Dick GRIFFIN at Trombone is infinitely seductive, inspired with qualities of warmth and flexibility in everything he plays. Exquisite massive riffs pile up in the foreground as if they are trying to photo-bomb.
“Fall From Grace” [4’51’’] is an extravagant fever of fantastic orchestral landscapes pierced by the precise vocals of BAHR and Colin CARTER (FLASH). Billy FICCA on Drums & Cymbals, with Dan PARKINGTON on Violin. A passionate call from the bow of Dan PARKINGTON, with Clint BAHR impressive on Basses 12/8/4, Acoustic Guitar, Mellotron, Theremin, Percussion, and Moog Taurus Pedals.
“Belt& Braces” [1’11’’] features Marilyn CRISPELL on Piano, Dick GRIFFIN on Trombone, Mike HOUGH on Drums & Cymbals, Clint BAHR, on 8-String Bass. Musical movements overlap evoking in turn the album FAIRYPORT by WIGWAM, MAGMA, and Keith TIPPETT.
“Oslo” [1’10’’] where Clint BAHR stirs up a horde of wild notes with his 12-String Bass, E-Bow, Piano, Theremin, and Percussion, over a narration by Stephanie FEYNE (THE DOTES).
“Kicking The Wasp’s Nest” [3’11’’] rocks fiercely under the golden fingers of Peter BANKS (YES, FLASH), as Clint BAHR on vocals, has the good idea to revive his guitar. His hands run furiously over his fret board. His spirit delivers for us a last bravissimo and his spectral solo, displays his aura and an acclamation of the gods. For his part, Jeff SCHILLER sometimes on the Baritone Saxophone and Tenor Saxophone with piercing attacks, carries it away for a journey of return.
“Lifeguard In The Rain” [3’31] is a limpid, celestial, lively melody with cries mixed with those of seagulls, and the ebb of the sea. And Jeff SCHILLER with his exemplary vibrato at the Oboe. The Acoustic Guitar, 8 String Wah Bass, Harmonium, Vocals, and Clint BAHR’s percussion carry us away to a reverie with this ocean of wealth. Then, it's the finale with the bewitching “Tabula Rasa 2” [2’40], meditative piece with David CROSS on violins (KING CRIMSON), Dan PARKINGTON divine on sitar, and Clint BAHR on Tamboura, Moog Taurus Pedals.
Clint Bahr's 12-String hand hits hard in this serious concept album. It is conceivable it will accomplish safely its objectives to success, with a massive and refined orchestration at the same time. Clint BAHR gives the necessary weight to this opus, testifying to his savoir-faire, and whose impact on the public will be considerable, especially taking into account the sublime quality of the sound recording.
PUZZLEBOX is very strongly recommended.
English translation courtesy Bill Moody
“ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE AND INTERESTING THINGS I’VE HEARD”
Music Street Journal
Clint Bahr has been covered at Music Street Journal previously as part of the group TriPod. This is his new solo album. I think this might be one of the most creative and interesting things I've heard in a while. It bends so many genres, and yet it feels cohesive. There are jazz things, freeform stuff, hard rock, psychedelia, King Crimson like music and lots more. Some of this is more accessible and mainstream than other things, but it's all compelling. This includes the late, great Peter Banks Colin Carter and Mike Hough, who were bandmates of Banks in his post Yes band Flash show up on the album, too. So does violinist/viola player David Cross of King Crimson fame. There are plenty of other guests here, but those are the names that really caught my eye. If you like a real sense of adventure and experimentation in your music, you really need to check this out. I think you will love it. This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022 Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.
Track by Track Review
Tabula Rasa 1
Psychedelic world music elements start this track, and it builds outward in that vein. This is a classy instrumental piece.
World music concepts start this. The track drives out with a bombastic movement from there that makes me think of King Crimson. As it gets to the vocal part of the tune, it gets a little more mainstream rock, but it's still proggy. The number has such a cool combination of sounds with an almost surf-rock riff in place at times, but all delivered with a psychedelia meets Crimson intensity.
Weird jazz, strange Crimsonian wanderings and more are on display on this freaky, but so cool, piece. This instrumental is freeform, avante garde and so cool.
Coming in super-heavy and rocking, this is another that has plenty of King Crimson in the mix. It works to a Cream meets psychedelia vibe for the first vocals. The number works onward by alternating between those things. There is an old-fashioned music section for a short time a couple times on the tune, too. A noisy instrumental break later is on fire. The mix of sounds here is unusual, and yet it works so well. This is actually one of my favorite tunes here.
As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat
Weird experimental music much like early King Crimson brings this in and holds it in a freeform way. This extensive (nearly 11 minutes) instrumental is insane, but also incredibly cool.
Fall From Grace
Metallic and yet prog-based, this is suitably weird and incredibly cool. There is some definite King Crimson in the mix and much more. It is psychedelic and has a rather Alice Cooper like descent into mellower madness mid-track.
Belt & Braces
This short instrumental is a jazz jam that has some really crazed elements.
Triangles Circles And Squares
Coming in tentatively, this turns rather symphonic as first thing beyond that. Then it gets into some rather Crimson-like hard-edged weirdness to continue. This instrumental is another that's fairly short.
Weird sound effects and freakiness serve as the backdrop for a female spoken vocal. This makes me think of Curved Air to some degree. It's another short piece.
Kicking The Wasps Nests
Driving and furious prog rock jamming ensues as this thing gets underway.
Lifeguard In The Rain
Weird atmospherics and effects brings this into being. The cut works out to some balladic approaches to continue. This gets psychedelic and trippy later.
Tabula Rasa 2
This closing instrumental piece is, as you probably guessed, related to the opening number of the set. It serves as a nice bookend.
“an intellectual and emotional masterpiece.”
CLINT BAHR – Puzzlebox
Begging for its secrets to be given an airing, progressively minded multi-instrumentalist’s treasure chest opens – at last, and it was worth the wait.
If properly engineered, a puzzlebox is a compact objet d’art which has moving pieces and delivers gratification upon solving this palpable enigma – and that’s exactly how it goes with Clint Bahr’s solo debut. Almost two decades after TRIPOD released their only album, the American artist has stepped out on his own, although in the company of a few famous friends – former members of VDGG, TELEVISION, FLASH and KING CRIMSON – who have been helping him slide these melodic and rhythmic elements in place for years until the very varied results seemed complete. Up to the listener to wonder at its inner logic and beauty now, the veteran’s long-gestating disc amassed a lot of surprises along the way, revealing new facets of the dozen numbers on display with every new spin – like a series of discoveries concealed in the compartments of original wooden item. Appropriately, these cuts’ sound couldn’t feel warmer than what’s on offer here.
And what can feel more analogue than the raga of “Tabula Rasa” that both opens the album and brings it to a meditative close, with Clint first strumming a tambura alongside Dan Parkington sitar, while David Jackson’s flutes weave mesmeric lines in their tapestry, and then introducing Moog pedals to the effects-laden mix in which the drone is passed to David Cross‘ violin and viola? What’s between these tracks won’t be as highbrow, however, a smattering of improvs never crossing the line of pointless, complacent intricacy and leaning towards lighthearted playfulness instead. Still, whereas two jazz stalwarts, Marilyn Crispell on piano and Dick Griffin on trombone, lead Bahr’s Chapman Stick and percussion astray, to foray into a well-tuned, albeit sometimes angular, adventure and render the brief “Belt & Braces” and the epic “As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat” extremely arresting, the experimental exotica of the sax-smeared “New Design” and sweet swirl of the fairground-smelling “Shelter” ooze delicious heaviosity once hefty riffs surface to come to the fore.
Yet when Mike Hough or Billy Ficca’s drums drive the drift, under Clint’s simple voice and impressive array of many-string basses and ivories, to fantastic frenzy, orchestral panoramas unfold. In this context Colin Carter’s vocals thunder on “Fall From Grace” as a prophetic call from the Scripture over a chthonic groove, the sawing of Parkington’s bow and the ringing of Bahr’s Mellotron and acoustic guitar, and the late Peter Banks’ fingers run frenetically over the frets in “Kicking The Wasp’s Nest” which rocks wildly, before the tremulously translucent “Lifeguard In The Rain” finds the main man deep in a reverie. Actually, “Puzzlebox” is a nerd’s dream: temperately sophisticated but accessible – and immersive only sonic mosaic may be; it’s an intellectual and emotional masterpiece.
“A GREAT CD, BOTH EXPERIMENTAL AND PROGRESSIVE”
Review: Clint Bahr - PuzzleBox (Moonjune Records, 2022) (Progressive Rock/Experimental Jazz)
Clint Bahr - vocals, acoustic guitar, mellotron, Moog, tambura, string guitars, percussion, E-bow strings, harmonium, piano and toms from New York City, America made the CD album "Tripod" in 2003 with the band Tripod and this is followed on March 31, 2022 by his solo CD album "PuzzleBox", which was released through Moonjune Records.
He is assisted by guest musicians: David Jackson - flute (track 1), Dan Parkington - sitar and violin (track 1, 3, 6 and 12 ), Jeff Schiller - clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, baritone and tenor saxophone (track 2, 8, 10 & 11), Mike Hough - drums (track 2, 3, 5 & 7), Marilyn Crispell - piano (track 3, 5 & 8), Dick Griffin - trombone (track 3, 4, 5 & 7 ), Billy Ficca - drums (track 4 and 10), David Jackson - woodwinds and effects (track 5), Colin Carter - vocals (track 6), David Cross - violin (track 8 and 12), Stephanie Feyne - dialogue (track 9) and Peter Banks - lead guitar (track 10).
The 12-track album starts with "Tabula Rasa", in which Clint Bahr performs an oriental-sounding song with a moderate tempo and this is followed by "New Design", a song with a medium tempo, which starts with oriental sounds, has tempo changes and a recurring rhythm and contains experimental jazz influences and "Plate", an experimental jazz song with a medium tempo.
This is followed by "Shelter", a beautiful progressive song with a medium tempo and experimental influences, "As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat", an experimental song with jazz influences and a moderate tempo and "Fall From Grace", a progressive song. song with an average tempo and tempo changes, which gets theatrical influences halfway through.
In "Belt & Braces" Clint Bahr gives me a short free jazz song in an average tempo, in "Triangles, Circles And Squares" I hear a wonderfully experimental piece of music and in "Oslo" he lets me enjoy a great song with narration, which is accompanied by experimental sounds.
Then follows "Kicking The Wasps Nests", a fantastic uptempo progressive rock song with jazz influences and a recurring rhythm, which swings, "Lifeguard In The Rain", a beautiful pop song with a fairly slow tempo and "Tabula Rasa 2", a delightfully slow Eastern sounding song, accompanied by a monotonous dark sound.
"PuzzleBox" by Clint Bahr is a great CD, which sounds both experimental and progressive, making it difficult for me to make a good judgment about this disc, so I would say, listen and judge for yourself. (listen to this album via the bandcamp link below the review)
VIOLENT & FIERCE
Chris M. Slawecki – All About Jazz
CLINT BAHR/Puzzlebox: Puzzlebox is precisely that A hard-cover box of musical curios arranged around an 11-minute improvisation ("As Tympani Melt in the Greek Heat") performed not by a band but by a rotating caravan of progressive jazz and rock musicians organized by multi-instrumentalist and composer Clint Bahr. Bahr's collaborators in this curious collection include pianist Marilyn Crispell, violinist David Cross, the late Yes guitarist Peter Banks and other musicians who have performed with artists as far-ranging as Sun Ra and Rahsaan Roland Kirk (trombonist Dick Griffin) and The Roots (woodwind player Jeff Schiller).
Because it presents so many different contributors in so many different formats, Puzzlebox comes off like an anthology boxed set even though it's only one CD. Bookend versions of "Tabula Rasa 1" and "Tabula Rasa 2" open and close with a heady psychedelic mixture of sitar, tambura and flute, a captivating effect that loops its ending back into its beginning.
But after that tranquil opening, Puzzlebox grows more dense, heavy and hard. Bahr plays three different basses (4-, 8-and 12-string) to drive "New Design" into a prog-rock stomp that quickly turns violent and fierce—especially its sputtering bridge, which sounds so angry that it can barely spit out the right notes. Horns singing in eastern/oriental tones simultaneously complement and contrast with its brittle, angry rock stomp. Together, the rhythm and horn charts pull this "New Design" together into a sound that suggests Deep Purple and Jade Warrior, stalwarts at very different ends of the British prog-rock spectrum, jamming together.
Bahr's bass seems barely able to restrain the extended improvisation for piano, violin, trombone and percussion "Plate" as it keeps growing for nearly eight minutes. The trombone seems to play off the relatively straight bass-and-drum shuffle but pianist Crispell seems to have recorded a different tune played in a different time, and then superimposed it (like an upside-down plate) on top. If you've ever wondered what improvisational pianist Cecil Taylor might sound like accompanied by improvisational jazz-rockers like Soft Machine, dig into this "Plate."
The centerpiece improvisation "As Tympani Melt in the Greek Heat" is psychedelic and evocative, more of a painting in sound than a song. Drummer Mike Hough sets up rhythms in which none of the other instruments sound interested; the trombone, woodwind and piano all seem to go their own way. Then in the last minute, the chaotic sound clears and surreally reveals what sounds like the digital dawning of a new day.
Puzzlebox arranges smaller curio pieces ("Belt & Braces," "Oslo" and the improvisation "Triangles, Circles & Squares") like side orders and relishes around these main pieces.
Puzzlebox also celebrates two decades of Clint Bahr's relationship with MoonJune Records founder Leonardo Pavkovic: The self-titled debut of Bahr's protean NYC-based power trio TriPod was the fourth release in MoonJune's fledgling catalog in 2003.
CLINT BAHR PRESENTS WORLDBEAT PROG-ROCK
Clint Bahr’s Puzzlebox (MoonJune Records) is no genre. Composer/Multi-Instrumentalist/Vocalist Bahr has enlisted the aid of 12 world-class musicians to flesh out his Progressive Rock vision that morphs into jazz-fusion, worldbeat, ethno-folk, ambient, classical, soundtrack (for a movie that doesn’t exist) and otherworldly funk. It’s all in the credits of the players where you can get a sense of what might be going on here. Pianist Marilyn Crispell (Pharoah Sanders), violinist David Cross (King Crimson), drummer Billy Ficca (Television), trombonist Dick Griffith (Sun Ra), drummer Mike Hough (Flash), woodwinds men David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator) and Jeff Schiller (The Roots) jam with Dan Parkington on sitar and violin. Even licks from the original Yes guitarist, the late Peter Banks, are used. Now just sit back and think what members of all these diverse units could possibly come up with.
THE ECLECTIC PUZZLE MASTER CLINT BAHR
HELLO, FRIENDS OF AUTOPOIETICAN, CÉSAR INCA GREETS YOU.
This is a little late but, finally, here is this humble review about "PUZZLEBOX", album of the talented American multi-instrumentalist and composer CLINT BAHR, who was published by the label MoonJune Records the last day of March of last year 2022. BAHR's association with the aforementioned label began in 2003 with the release of the album TriPod, a trio founded by this musician.
Throughout the selection of 12 songs that brings us the album we now review, BAHR plays multiple 4, 8 and 12 string basses, Chapman Stick, acoustic and electric guitars, E-bow, Mellotron, Moog Taurus bass pedals, tambura, baglama saz, wooden flute, piano, harmonium, Theremin, percussions and vocals. It also features a collective of big names on the roster of backing musicians: David Jackson (flutes and saxophones), Mike Hough (drums), Jeff Schiller (baritone and tenor saxes, oboe and clarinet), David Cross (violins), Dan Parkington (sitar and violin), Dick Griffin (trombone), Billy Ficca (drums), Marilyn Crispell (piano), Colin Carter (vocals) and Peter Banks (guitar). I mean, we have people from VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, KING CRIMSON, FLASH (including its late founding guitarist) and TELEVISION on staff. The material collected in "PUZZLEBOX" was recorded and mixed at Pyramid Sound Recording Studios, over several years; production was handled by Todd Hemleb and BAHR himself. What we find here is an eclectic display of ideas focused on avant-garde jazz, psychedelic prog, contemporary fusion and hard rock with clear experimental connotations, but let's get into the details of this album.
The repertoire of "PUZZLEBOX" begins with the miniature 'Tabula Rasa', an exhibition of dreamlike expectation marked by the opening oriental airs manifested in the interaction between the strings and the flutes. 'New Design' extends for a space of 5 3/4 minutes to create an exercise of sophisticated and ceremonious rock that knows how to let itself be carried away by its own inner vigor in several strategic passages. There are also clever games of syncopation that emerge in the most exalted places. Within its well-delineated thematic development, what sounds here seems like a cross between the STICK MEN and the DAVID CROSS BAND with some extra seasonings taken from the paradigm of VAN DER GRAF GENERATOR (phase 75-76). 'Plate', which lasts more than 7 3/4 minutes, follows below to settle into an exercise of pieces of free jazz on piano and saxophone while the violin implements mischievous fusions of colorful colors, and the rhythmic duo establishes a prog-psychedelic base in a contemporary key. It is as if the worlds of SUN RA and ORNETTE COLEMAN have melted into a light that imposingly floods MORAINE's laboratory. This is a zenith of the album.
'Shelter' is a rather enjoyable song that boasts the extroverted energy of classic rock of the 70s while transferring it to a more sophisticated work scheme than usual and adding certain humorous factors to the FRANK ZAPPA. The longest piece on the album occupies a space of 10 3/4 minutes and is titled 'As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat'. Its mission is to work with a refined density within a work scheme from RIO to HENRY COW and contemporary avant-jazz (DAVID TORN, FRED FRITH TRIO). This is concretized in an impulse of waves and inscrutable effluvia that feed the aforementioned density. The sonic approach focuses on the enhancement of the liberal contributions of the trombone, saxophone and piano in the midst of a jam projected towards the continuous creation of gentle challenges and motivating constructions. Another bizarre highlight of the album. In open contrast to the postmodernist color of the previous piece, 'Fall From Grace' is installed under a twilight atmosphere with a stylishly fierce mood. The halftime of rhythmic engineering opens a generous field for guitar makers to bring out their edge, which feels somewhat Zeppelinian. The singing is angry with a certain poetic tinge, courtesy of Colin Carter.
Next comes a sequence of three short instrumentals. 'Belts & Braces' establishes a return to avant-jazz-progressive discourse and does so with a more celebratory attitude than the one that materialized in theme #5. 'Triangles, Circles And Squares' is oriented towards a brainy delving into the most abstract and restless facet of the album, something that is reliably perpetuated in 'Oslo'. This last track includes a seductive and mysterious soliloquy by Stephanie Feyne (also photographer of the album cover). 'Kicking The Wasp's Nests' is a rather marching song that openly flirts with the traditions of hard rock and space-rock, while showing off its peculiar hook. The sax solo that enters carving halfway adds a distinguished halo to the patent and forceful musculature that marks the song.
'Lifeguard In The Rain' is the opposite: an evocative song focused on the conjunction of harmonium and acoustic guitar when establishing the central motif. It's like an exploration into the area of folk-rock with mild psychedelic overtones. Continuing along this reflective path and definitively completing the circle traced by the repertoire of the album, 'Tabula Rasa 2' takes up the dreamlike atmosphere posed by the initial piece and receives certain crystalline nuances thanks to the interventions of the violin.
All this was what the master CLINT BAHR and his collaborators gave us with "PUZZLEBOX", an album full of eclectic creativity that turned out to be one of the most interesting novelties of last year 2022. This BAHR solo debut took several years to complete, but we hope that his next works (or projects) will not wait so long. This musical puzzle leaves us wanting more.
An album with several musical faces
*** Henri Strik
For most lovers of progressive rock the name of Clint Bahr doesn't ring any bells. Also for yours truly the album PUZZLEBOX was the first encounter with this multi-instrumentalist, who mainly is the bassist and singer on this release.
He recorded this album with several musical guests. Guests including musicians such as David Cross (ex-King Crimson), David Jackson (ex-Van der Graaf Generator), Mike Hough (ex-Flash), Colin Carter (ex-Flash) and the late Peter Banks (ex-Yes, ex-Flash). While listening to this album you could easily say that with this release Bahr tried to revive the spirit of King Crimson's Lizard and that of the album Trout Mask made by Captain Beefheart. But the album is also a tribute the Canterbury sound of the '70s.
PUZZLEBOX also includes influences of world music, psychedelic rock, noisy psychedelic avant-punk prog and jazzy progressive jams. All this together it might sound like a melting pot of different styles which certainly isn't everybody's cup of tea. And that is the case with this album. You need to spin it a couple of times to get into the musical feeling this musician tried to achieve with this release. The sometimes chaotic improvisations on the piano or saxophone isn't the daily progressive rock I play on my sound system. But as a reviewer you have to go through all the music presented to hear what kind of music is on this release. To hear who the audience is for which the music was composed and most of all improvised.
All this said it is very clear that here we have an album that reflects the spirit of optimism of the early seventies, whereby the stylistic chaos also indicates the class of those involved. The collective rushes back and forth between improvised free jazz (Triangles, Circles & Squares, Plate, Belt & Braces, As Tympani Melt In The Greek Heat), world music (Tabula Rasa) and heavy King Crimson kind of progressive rock (Fall From Grace, New Design).
I guess the name of the album, PUZZLEBOX, is well chosen. Because sometimes you have to puzzle to what kind of music this album can be labelled. Sometimes the pieces of the puzzle fit together to come to a fine sounding compositions. But at the same time it is for the listener not always easy to make a well sounding tune from all the jigsaw pieces. An album with several musical faces that's for sure. But one thing is certain. Those who enjoy King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, the Canterbury sound of the '70s and free jazz will have an enjoyable album to listen to.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
Highly entertaining in
“In German usage "puzzle" is used in the meaning of "jigsaw puzzle". And that image is working for TriPod's Clint Bahr "solo" outing as well: Many different pieces to form a bigger picture. Highly entertaining in its diversity boasting an impressive cast of collaborators. Favorite track: Kicking The Wasps’s Nest.”
May 21, 2022
CLINT BAHR/PUZZLEBOX: In which we find the prog bass ace rounding up pals from all the prog bands that mattered and whipping up a frenzy that doesn't know bounds or boundaries. Refuting the punks claim that these are dinosaurs with dust on them, who's still standing all these years later? Flights of fancy is where this set begins.
Clint Bahr, one of the defining faces of MoonJune Records, is a seasoned bassist, a veteran of the prog rock wave of the seventies, who plays a lot of stringed instruments, but perhaps the most amazing is his 12-string bass guitar.
For his "PUZZLEBOX” project, he brought together veterans with a similar style, who were previously members of legends such as Yes, King Crimson, Television, or Van der Graaf Generator. The lineup was supplemented by trombonist Dick Griffin, who played in Sun Ra's band, and pianist Marilyn Crispell, who may be familiar with Pharoah Sanders.
The opening material with an Indian atmosphere is an intense journey to the past, to the good old progressive times. The themes and riffs often seem very fresh and contemporary, but Bahr's vocals, with their Greg Lake manner, did not make it past the seventies.
And yet, the instrumental improvisations are not tied to the seventies, although the very free things sometimes go a little overboard. The noteworthy “Shelter" and "Fall from Grace" are stand outs on the record.
"PUZZLEBOX" sounds a bit old-fashioned to modern ears, and cheekily youthful to older ears. Perhaps that's what makes it exciting.
JAZZENZO JAZZ MAGAZINE
Georges Tonla Briquet
Multi-instrumentalist Clint Bahr invited a whole host of guest musicians for his latest release “PUZZLEBOX”. Fortunately, it didn't become a messy case of excess. Variation is guaranteed. Exactly twenty years ago the debut CD of Clint Bahr's group TriPod was released with MoonJune. Both have remained faithful to each other for the past two decades. Due to the move last year of the MoonJune headquarters from New York to Spain, the physical releases were delayed somewhat. Like everything that comes out on Leonardo Pavkovic's label, ''PUZZLEBOX” doesn't fall under releases with an expiration date either.
In the opening track 'Tabula Rasa 1' tambura, flutes and sitar determine the atmosphere. A misleading intro with a wink, because from the subsequent 'New Design' Bahr changes course. He brings out an extensive set of instruments and slightly pumps up the volume. Not merciless or noncommittal, but to accentuate the chosen direction: a colorful mixture of rock, prog and jazz. The parallels with David Bowie's 'Blackstar' are striking. Even Bahr's vocals lean on those of the Thin White Duke, while Jeff Schiller provides a New York drive with clarinet, baritone and tenor saxophone.
What follows are ramifications, diversions and distortions of these first two tracks with regular improvisation as the defining vector. One of the highlights is 'Plate' in which pianist Marilyn Crispell and trombonist Dick Griffin clash with each other. Extra jammer on duty is violinist Dan Parkington. Strong stuff that sounds like a wild mix of Captain Beefheart and Van der Graaf Generator! Further references range from Sun Ra to Anthony Braxton. A pinch of psychedelics and some Yes influences are also part of it.
How a label like MoonJune still continues to provide surprising albums. Especially for fans of King Crimson and the entire Canterbury scene.
Beluister dit album via Bandcamp.