John Wilcox Progsheet review The Next World 5/11/12

Stratospheerius – The Next World… (Fiddlefunk Music)

Take violinist / vocalist Joe Deninzon, add guitarist Aurelien Budynek, bassist Jamie Bishop, and drummer Lucianna Padmore and you get the genre-busting quartet Stratospheerius. One moment you get a Police vibe; another song might fit in with that gonzo Tubes feel; the next some Jeff Beck-ish; yet another would be at home in the Zappa family. Sometimes all at once. The one common factor is that every number is full of invention and feels alive.

The biggest jump since the last Stratospheerius album is the depth and maturity Deninzon’s voice has gained. His vocal on The House Always Wins is playful and a bit of a tease. On Gods it’s got an urgent edge. Earthy and open on Climbing. As for the playing, every member plays with passion and invention. Budynek is tight and bright in rhythm mode and soars when the song calls for it. Bishop, who prog fans might recall from stints with the Syn and with Francis Dunnery, is a flat out low end monster and perfectly matched with the fiery Padmore. She is that drummer every musician wants in their ensemble: a player that can blow your mind one moment, then tenderly hold your hand the next. As for Deninzon – the sounds he gets out of that violin are inhuman. His speed, precision, color, and character are just off the charts!

Not a bum song to be found here. Today Ballad For Ding Bang, the Morse-era Spock’s Beard-ish One Foot In The Next World, The House Always Wins, and Tech Support win the highlight honors. If you dig funk/prog/rock/jazz/jam/fusion/pretty-much-everything-but-opera – it’s all right here. The Next World… is a disc you’ll never get tired of spinning! Much love to dear departed Stratospheerian Bob Bowen who also provided the cover art.