They had my interest with their name. Pray For Brain. This had to be something different. Then the band photo of a three piece band, including an upright classic acoustic bass had me intrigued. Noting the label, Trey Gunn's 7media Records, and I knew some interesting music would flow from None of the Above.
Pray For Brain power trio consists of Mustafa Stefan Dill on guitars, Christine Nelson on bass, and Jefferson Voorhees on drums, all accomplished musicians. While probably not entirely unique, their sound is at once traditional, clever, and eclectic creating a fusion of rock, jazz, funk, and more with generous portions of South Asian and Middle Eastern tones.
The band puts their music in arrangements that might be called managed improvisation. There is little doubt that many of these songs began from Dill and Voorhees jam sessions as a duo. Now they're pieces with with a bit more glue and direction. But I suspect the band goes into ape shit improvisation mode, as necessary, when playing live.
Saying that the definitive focus of the Pray For Brain is Dill's guitar playing is probably both generous and a bit suspect. Your ears, on first spin, might naturally gravitate to his abundant cleverness. But the bass and drums sneak up on you. Dill can venture into one of his world music spins and Voorhees then, by example, plays like he just dropped in from Calcutta. Underneath and throughout Nelson seems to offer an anchor, a steadiness that keeps you focused while your brain bobs and weaves to interpret what craftiness it hears from Dill's guitar.
As for songs, more traditional progressive rock fusion comes with Drop the Needle and Hawk and Mouse, for example. Lighter invocations of jazz fusion arrive with Leo. Those world influences are abundantly clear in the short Taksim Lami. In other songs they're self-evident significant parts as with God's Mirrors and Bhangrabilly, the longest number, giving Bhangra music a mash up of rock jazz fusion.
Perhaps the most curious and fun number is Sufisurf, where you might hear something of Dick Dale's Misirlou while the ocean waves echo in your ears. Surf music of a different order. Maybe Pray For Brain should do an interpretation of Surfaris' Wipe Out. I suspect it might sound quite Cali cool. Again, None of the Above is rather inspired and creative music, breathing some new life into the sometimes stodgy world of instrumental progressive rock music. Recommended.
None of the Above is rather inspired and creative music, breathing some new life into the sometimes stodgy world of instrumental progressive music.
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