everyone else gives it a perfect rating, so I might as well do the same,
This review is from: Enigmatic Ocean (Audio CD)
I really like Enigmatic Ocean. The violin jams are scorching hot, and absolutely exciting. The album feels like a mid 70's Jeff Beck album in terms of sound and style (of course Beck focuses on the guitar, not the violin- must be the production of the album that sounds the same). Hard to pick a favorite song when every single moment of Enigmatic Ocean features lots of energy, beauty and challenging violin and guitar playing. It's quite an album!
This is one of those rare cases where EVERYTHING comes together and feels so right. I found myself playing certain songs over and over just so I can remember them. It was a pleasure to do so, because every time you hear these songs, you remember a little bit more each time. Interesting how there's a moody atmosphere throughout the album, while violin solos can be used as a challenge for people who are willing to take on such a challenge. This is just great great stuff.
"Overture" opens with a swirling electric guitar which is sort of funny when you think about it- a violin master *already* showing off a diverse side and the albums just begun! What better way to express your violin jamming skills than with some guitar work right off the bat, haha! The variety that the musicians from the 70's brought to the table just continues to amaze me! The upbeat, swift-moving funky rhythm of "The Trans-Love Express" is next and WHAT a treat it is to hear the violin jam that plays over it! And an intense electric guitar workout that most guitarists can only dream of! Every note of this piece is magnificent.
"Mirage" begins with a beat not much different from the R&B stuff that was popular at the time. But of course we know Jean Luc Ponty is just licking his chops at the opportunity to show off that amazing violin playing skills of his. We know this because he does the same thing in just about *all* of his music. Once again his abilities are showcased brilliantly, and the synth jam provides just enough variety to carry the late night soothing adventurous ocean-drifting feel the album accurately portrays up to this point.
We now arrive to the "Enigmatic Ocean" suite as I like to call it. Hold onto your horses ladies and gentlemen! This is where Jean Luc's talents are fully realized. "Enigmatic Ocean Part 1" is the short intro. Oddly the intro sounds like the one from King Crimson's "Fallen Angel" but that's a total coincidence I'm sure. After this a Genesis-like heavenly instrumental part comes in. This is cool! But before we can catch our enthusiastic breath we're immediately taken to "Enigmatic Ocean Part II" which is quite a speedy guitar workout similar to the work found on the Mahavishnu Orchestra'a Visions of the Emerald Beyond period of jazz fusion. Actually I want to make another comparison to Genesis and this time their Duke album. Well until the violin comes in of course. Did Genesis ever use violin in their music? I don't believe they did. Anyway this is all about a fast-moving exchange of violin solos, electric guitar and synths jamming away as mercilessly as one could imagine. Oh! One moment of this piece has guitar playing quite like Pierre Moerlen's Expresso II-era Gong. That's how you perk a mans attention!
"Enigmatic Ocean Part III" takes us back to R&B-influenced laidback grooviness... BUT! With more Expresso II-like guitar playing. Yes I realize Enigmatic Ocean came out before the Gong album but I heard the Gong album *before* Enigmatic Ocean so there you go! Guitar playing that burns and feels so awesome at the same time. After the guitar does its job in making me feel unstoppable, get ready for a tasty violin solo afterwards. "Enigmatic Ocean Part IV" finally closes out this suite as a nice melodic instrumental piece (no jam workout here!) I shouldn't say "finally" like the whole thing took forever since we're only talking about 10 minutes of playtime here. I'd like to think I'm still young enough to be able to proclaim 10 minutes is relatively short!
"Nostalgic Lady" has a dreamy intro with great bass work leading to a soothing violin jam. Doesn't this stuff seriously remind you of taking a trip on a boat across a country lake during a full moon? When the water's peaceful and the fish are... sleeping? Do fish sleep? Then again why does the water have to be peaceful? That's such a cliché! This music is the exact opposite of peaceful. Anyway the violin jam is deceivingly soothing. It starts out nice and calm leading you into a false sense of security that Jean's going mellow on us. Oh no he's not! Another intense jazz fusion-esque guitar jam soon follows.
Now we arrive to the second multi-part theme of the album, this one titled "The Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea" (which makes me envision sea creatures drifting to a sandy beach unable to let the waves carry them back to the water, heh). For a while the synth jam is played impressively and imaginatively, but soon it goes kind of bonkers near the end! That's... weird, haha! "The Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea Part II" begins with an innocent little piano passage before moving towards a Frank Zappa imitating jazzy jam? Well it sure sounds like the late great Frank for about 30 seconds! But it actually shifts into an Addams Family-like moment of spookiness before the song REALLY gets going. Another top-notch, sizzling violin workout for the remainder of the track before "The Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea Part III" arrives with all kinds of soulful bass work and a guitar solo soaring so hard it almost sounds like it's ready to crack! Never heard a guitar do that before. When the melodic instrumental theme plays near the end the piece gets all dramatic before some mighty fine guitar playing finishes this AWESOME album.
Overall yes, you know what you have to do- pick up Enigmatic Ocean and enjoy it! Probably my 3rd favorite Jean Luc Ponty album behind Aurora and Imaginary Voyage.