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A compilation of demos from his various output during the 90’s, “Rare Trax” is the last piece of the Chris Poland fan’s collection puzzle. But is it of value for the casual fan, or for anyone else? Well….read on.
The first six “trax,” according to the liner notes, are compiled from demos produced by Mumbo’s Brain, one of a few bands Chris was involved in post-Megadeth. They aren’t a metal band; in fact, I have no idea what to call the stuff. Heavy soul? Alternative fusion? It’s strange stuff, characterized by slow, expressive tempos, and open, airy instrumentation. The instrumental part is great: Poland is excellent, as is his brother Mark on drums and Dave Randi on bass. The big turn off here is singer John Skipp, who tries to give an over-the-top soulful performance (like a greatly exaggerated Edgar Winter, but with the voice of say, Louis Armstrong) and totally ruins the songs with his warbling (and screaming, yelping, and yodeling). It’s like he’s trying to clear his throat while singing the lines. Those that can get past his presence might enjoy the subtle groove laid down by the rest of the band.
After this we’re treated to the first of two acoustic interludes, which consists of nothing more than a few minutes of a neat little acoustic melody.
After this little interlude, we get five tracks produced by a later band of Poland’s by the name of Nothing Is Not. This is a bit jazzier, with Koko Bermejo on drums and Dave Randi once again on bass. Vocals are provided by Carol McArthur, who despite being a refreshing change after John Skipp’s ‘singing,’ still gives a noticeably flat performance. Where does Chris find these vocalists? But mostly these tracks are a bit nicer, being mellow and experimental in nature.
Enter the second acoustic interlude, which is about as nice as the first, though quite different stylistically. The album then ends with another one of those long improvised jams that are absolutely obsolete outside of the realm of background music. There’s a different bassist and drummer, but these things are so hard to listen to that I don’t care who’s doing it so much as I care about when it’s going to end.
Realistically, this is only for diehard Poland fans. Definitely not the place to start when looking into his solo stuff: try either of the full-lengths instead.
First off, everyone hopefully has come to the reality that the days of Chris Poland being a "metalhead" are long gone. His true craft is Jazz/fusion, and he executes it rather well. On this particular album, you basically have a compilation of some previously unreleased recordings that stem from around just after the demise of "Damn The Machine", right up until the ongoing Jazz trio of OHM. Musically this album is very cool and is as one might vision a jazz album to be, rather complicated and at times confusing. This music is definately for musicians. If you don't play an instrument, you'll really have to keep an open mind when listening to this album since its rather choppy and unstructured, often at times it seems as though its "all over the place". Well people, thats jazz for you!
The vocals on this album are truly aweful and I can't understand as to why Chris would delve headstrong into a musical project of this calibre with some incredibly talented musicians and then use a vocalist that can't sing.
The highlight of this album is the final track "If yello were orange" which is simply the band doing an instrumental improv style jam. Its got some incredible music and the bass lines are something that truly must be heard. As previously stated, this is musicians music. Its not something you'll ever hear on a radio station and its definately not anything that you can dance too. Its Jazz people, I don't know what else to tell you.
Its definately worth aquiring if your a fan of Jazz/fusion or simply interested in hearing some great guitar work...but don't buy this album simply because your a fan of Poland's previous material, you may end up very disapointed.