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A worthy follow-on to To The One
on October 22, 2012
John McLaughlin's 4th Dimension is one of his longest-running line-ups, centred on his partnership with keyboardist (and occasional drummer) Gary Husband, backed up by a series of bassists and drummers. The ensemble's 2010 offering, To The One, displayed a focus and consistent level of energy perhaps not seen in McLaughlin's albums since his Mahavishnu and Shakti output, even down to the sombre, pared down CD cover.
The cover of Now Here This shows McLaughlin in relaxed mood, posing with one of his favourite guitars. But the music herein does not let up in any way on its predecessor. Trancefusion kicks off with some high-energy guitar and drum improvisation before settling in to a complex time signature rock riff that must have made McLaughlin's entire day when it first came to him. Echos (sic) From Then combines a melody that could have come off To The One with descending arpeggio triplets that are pure Mahavishnu, as is the subsequent 7/8 rhythm'n'blues riffing. Guitar Love is one of the album's highlights, again starting with Mahavishnu arpeggios segueing into a swinging blues riff.
There are two significant developments on this album as compared to To The One (apart from being available on vinyl). First, Mark Mondesir has been replaced by Ranjit Bharot, frequently described as the "Indian powerhouse drummer". This is certainly accurate, but he lacks his predecessor's deft touch and witty interplay with McLaughlin and Gary Husband that made To The One such a joy. Second, McLaughlin has apparently switched from playing Godin guitars (a brand he originally picked up due to their advanced MIDI compatibility) to a Paul Reed Smith guitar, which he has described as "about as close to perfection as is possible". This is essentially a return from the super-strat Godins to a Les Paul-style guitar. The result is a grittier tone and, if such a thing is possible, even greater fluency on the fingerboard. On tracks like Call And Answer, McLaughlin seems to revel in playing this guitar more than ever. Quite simply, the playing on this album is astonishing in its energy and musicality as for its virtuosity. A definite Buy!