Ecstasy In Numbers - Spellbound

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Speechless Records
Catalog Number: SR9801
Format: CD
Total Time: 67:58:00

Formed essentially in 1986, Washington State-based Ecstasy In Numbers are a trio consisting of Garey Williams on drums, Mike Mattingly on guitar and Dean Schmidt on bass. The three cook up some very tasty jazz-rock that will appeal to fans of Liquid Tension Experiment, Bozzio Levin Stephens and any other jazzy combo that Levin has been involved in. Bass isn't the most dominant instrument here, of course, as each are doing something interesting throughout, making this another one that you can full appreciate in just one sitting, and yet you can help be won over after a single listening. While it might seem the obvious comment to make, you'll be spellbound by Spellbound. Mattingly plays with crisp, clear lines; Schmidt's tone is deep and boomy, very earthy in tone. Williams' percussion is assured and no mere time keeping. Folks that came to mind - Larry Carlton, John Scofield, Craig Chaquico (um, yes, Mattingly does use steel string), Djam Karet, and many others, all at different points. The arrangements and their playing seems effortless from the get go, beginning with "Cruisin'." Memorable melodies flow throughout the album though, no less on the title track "Spellbound." Each song is a journey that remains fresh and vital, these three guys aren't just playing jazzy figures, they're feeling them.

Taking just some samples from this terrific album, "Rush Hour" is muscular and a bit dangerous - in this rush hour we're not stuck in traffic, were taking an adrenaline and testosterone filled journey up twisting and winding roads or speeding along a flat, dark desert highway. Take your pick of imagery as they're both here. Throaty bass pulses with bravado; lacy guitar figures are anything but delicate, but quite lyrical and expressive? Fat bass lines open "Spy Vs Spy," sounding a lot like those found in the theme music for Seinfeld, though I'm sure there are other parallels to be found. This track is otherwise rather moody, as Mattingly plays some brooding guitar. While most of the tracks are heavier on the jazz than the rock, the rock aspect comes to the fore on tracks such as "I'm Not A Vampire Anymore" which closes the album. "Cruisin'" which kicks things off sounds vaguely familiar (aside from my having reviewed it on the AXcavation compilation. Maybe because there is no way this could be called anything other than "Cruisin'" or other such mobile term, or maybe because Scofield (for example) has gone in similar direction?or rather they to Scofield. One song I did think of was Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" This would be the more shimmery, jazzy, wordless version, but both have the same backing rhythm. "Glass Hummingbird" is cheerful, the bass taking the lead?'tis where I though of Levin the most, but on the other hand, there are brief passages where it gets dirty, throaty and dark, and I think of Rush.

The production on this album is terrific, crystal clear. You can hear every drum beat and every cymbal snick, shimmer, and crash, hear every thump of the bass, and hear every singing guitar note. Sure some of the tone colours they use aren't unique, but this so well done and quite engaging and entertaining that it doesn't matter. Highly recommended that you seek this out.

Cruisin' (6:38) / Glass Hummingbird (5:53) / Shades (4:59) / Spellbound (7:02) / Rush Hour (8:04) / Spy Vs. Spy (9:37) / Hangtime (5:43) / Lisa (5:00) / An Orca's Wish (7:27) / I'm Not A Vampire Anymore (7:40)

Garey Williams - drums
Mike Mattingly - guitar
Dean Schmidt - bass

Spellbound (1998)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin US

Added: May 22nd 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1010
Language: english


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