Two years on from the excellent double CD release Proto Mundi/Doomsday Vault, Antoine Fafard returns with album number six. For his latest release he has recalled Gary Husband, solely on keyboards, and occupying the drum throne this time around is Todd Sucherman.
There’s no clue as to the origin of the album title, however if we take it that ‘Borromean’, often illustrated by three rings attached in a way so that no two are linked, but the configuration cannot be taken apart without breaking one of the rings. And ‘Odyssey’ derived from Homer’s epic poem, telling the tale of Odysseus’ ten-year journey home from Troy, an epic journey so as to speak. Might it be our three musicians have forged an unbreakable link of epic proportions?
Moving on and at this point let’s introduce the band, first up the man behind the project, composer, bassist and guitarist Antoine Fafard. Given his recent solo albums have included the crème de la crème of drummers – Simon Phillips, Gavin Harrison, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Chad Wackerman, Terry Bozzio and of course Gary Husband – is surely a recommendation of his playing and compositional skills. Taking up the drum mantle this time is Todd Sucherman, not a name that will resonate in fusion circles I suspect as, for almost a quarter of a century, he has been sticks man with Styx ( 😉 ). Rest assured master drum clinician Sucherman is a formidable drummer and a worthy successor, offering his own slant to the music on the Borromean Odyssey. Last but by no means least is Gary Husband, not behind the kit, however demonstrating his monstrous keyboard skills.
Finally, before we tackle the music, a quick mention of the striking but perhaps slightly misleading post-apocalyptic artwork, which may lead those unfamiliar with Mr Fafard’s music to the conclusion that this new release must be a somewhat heavy and metallic offering. Far from it, and although there’s no shortage of oomph and power on Borromean Odyssey, Antoine has not forsaken his progressive, jazz fusion leanings.
As I’ve alluded to in the past, the beauty of instrumental music is it allows the listener greater freedom to interpret and visualise, so as the somewhat tortured and constantly changing rhythms of Invisible Pastel emerge from the speakers, thoughts return to the album’s bleak and desolate album design. The tracks initial pulse, accompanied by Antoine’s menacing scene-setting guitar theme, is short-lived and replaced by a twisted rhythmical structure and augmented by Gary Husband’s tantalisingly restrained solo. The tension is palpable and only released as the piece folds back on itself to close.
Across the album, each of the musicians is given the freedom to express themselves and all pieces feature solo passages from Antoine and Gary along with several in context breaks from Todd. How this comes about musically – I’m guessing – is I assume that Antoine charts out a detailed framework for each of the pieces and then, given the calibre of musicians who grace his releases, he allows them the freedom to interpret.
So to track two and ProgRation, which does little to relieve the tension created by the album opener, although more free-flowing, the music remains vibrant whilst unnerving. In fact it is left to the album’s intersecting atmospheric Borromean Odyssey parts I through V to offer resting, segue points to the main events. Although not jolly or whimsical interludes by any stretch of the imagination, they do however offer calming moments and, barring part I, serve to highlight Antoine’s skilful guitar work.
The aforementioned part I with it’s spacey atmospherics takes us into the killer The Seventh Extinction. Grooved by Antoine’s percussive bass and propelled by Todd’s busy, empathic drumming laying the groundwork for some monstrous solos. Note here that Gary moves onto the Rhodes for this extended break. Here’s just a little taster:
Now with five equally stunning tracks still remaining on the album, the danger here is to keep searching for more superlatives to describe each of them in turn. So here I could go on to mention Antoine’s awesome bass solo during Chemical Reactor, followed by the equally awesome synth break from Gary – and so on…
So in conclusion, track one will tell you whether this album is for you, and if not, you can simply leave the building. For the remainers, (ooops, topical word warning), what follows is 40-plus minutes of top-drawer music that demands repeated listens and rewards that process…
Count it in Mr Sucherman…
01. Invisible Pastel (4:51)
02. ProgRation (4:59)
03. Borromean Odyssey I (0:46)
04. The Seventh Extinction (5:28)
05. Borromean Odyssey II (1:47)
06. Chemical Reactor (4:49)
07. Borromean Odyssey III (1:22)
08. Terra Nullius (5:08)
09. Borromean Odyssey IV (1:17)
10. Time Lapse (5:04)
11. Borromean Odyssey V (1:23)
12. Inspired Mechanics (5:24)
13. Trident (4:55)
Total Time – 47:13
Antoine Farfard – Bass, Guitar
Todd Sucherman – Drums
Gary Husband – Keyboards
Record Label: Timeless Momentum
Date of Release: 30th August 2019