Monday, October 27, 2014

Mark Egan "A Touch of Light" (1988)

Only a touch of light upon the vibrance of the bassist's spectrum...

Mark Egan has been Pat Metheny's sideman for a good long time and his ability and unique style has been demonstrated over again with the masterclass fusion guitarist. The towering, skeletal statuesque Egan wields a double electric bass on the cover of A Touch of Light, which doesn't follow inline with other FM-friendly GRP productions with an atmospheric new-age temperment, into far-depths of science class exposition about exotic sealife has a place for sure. That's what makes Egan an inordinary creature and what baffled critics about the mostly smooth jazz pushing label, which is why A Touch of Light is oddly found if obscured in the GRP catalog.

Very little does the program depart from mostly borderline psychedelic fantasia a la Dan Siegel style new-age, where Egan is entirely fretless synthesizer bassin' for his 1988 outing and debut for the label. A band of inconsistent coloring of underutilized talent is accompanied by keyboardists Cliff Carter and Gil Goldstein for various tracks fade lost into a swirl of Egan's soundscape. Metheny bandmate Danny Gottlieb lends a cymbal of his kit to the smattering of tracks for an added touch.

Bombay Way predictably draws indian sitar influences on the fretless and like ethnic percussion while it's neighborly Eastern Window takes on a synthed and sequenced background of more worldly jazz influence. Waterfall Cafe does as described, but won't distinguish itself merely by name.

A Touch of Light's self-title, most radio friendly attempt features Bill Evans fluttering midway through on the soprano sax, and the most distinctive of the disc's mostly sauntering set.

GRP's gimmick here is for Egan's show off Egan's non-linear approach and an impressive show as to what else can be done on the displayed double four-eight-string electric bass, but A Touch of Light only casts a glimpse of the shadowy tones of what Egan is capable of with his jazz weapon. Aside from the title cut, the album departs the commercial glaze of common GRP jazz but loses oneself in what often sounds like a unfocused display of cool bass trick synthesis. Though the fretlessness Egan is obsessed with on this album is psychotropic, dazed and mildly progressive, it's directive ethereal outcome languishes like a summer afternoon heatstroke; it's not terribly captivating, mostly dozy and redundantly forgettable, boresome BGM aside from a few of the deep sea crescendos where some jazz bandplay emerges.

A Touch of Light is no diorama of Egan's true prowess, instead, a forgettable concept that only rewarded the Skeletor bassist one round on the label and a collective yawn.

DIGITAL VERDICT : 4.0  (out of 10)

NOTABLE TRACKS : A Touch of Light
WHAT IT REALLY COMES DOWN TO is atmospheric background music with little memorable value

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