Whatzup
Reflex 2002
various artists

by Jason Hoffman Reflex 2002

The lymph-node numbing chill of an Indiana winter can only mean one thing… the latest Reflex anthology from 20to20soundesign. As in past years, this project showcases an immense variety of local artists that expand the scope of talent available in this fair city.

Guitarist-about-town Duane Eby kicks things off with an edgy cover version of the Usquebaugh song “Change,” playing every instrument and making every sound. Sporting a 70s vibe, great vocal harmonies, and horns-a-plenty is Jim Cline with the catchy “The Day Before Yesterday.” Todd Fletcher goes all acoustic with the humorous and pleasantly folksy “My Uncle” who “works for the C.I.A.”. On the heavy end of the spectrum is 3 Car Pile-Up and their Sabbath-influenced “Spare Change,” a massive wall of grinding guitars.Youthful artist Sophia croons a medley of “Happy Birthday, O Suzanna,” exhibiting the kind of homemade audio greeting cards that can make for a unique and personal gift.

Two hip-hop entries include the positive call for unity from Whiteboy & L.O.R.D. in “Rise Above” and the groovy “From Indiana” by Undergound King, a track which mentions many famous Hoosiers and ends with a trombone solo set to the funky beat. The Southside High School Jazz Band performs “Straight, No Chaser,” nearly five minutes of jazz mayhem that left me astounded at the precocious talent level as player after player laid down jaw-dropping yet tasteful solos. Also impressive are the complex polyrhythms and tonal variety of “Dibon” by Three Rivers Jenbe Ensemble.

Five instrumentals adorn this project, from the previously reviewed “Technology” by Girth to an ethereal ode to Eno (“2002, Eno 11”) to the well-paced “Gogmagog” by Jim Steele and Todd Harrold. Steele, as always, impresses with his high-caliber playing and songwriting as evident in his solo contribution. The mysterious Tumbolia adds the most unique track, “The Dentist’s Chair,” a musical visit to the dentist complete with painkillers, laughing gas and menacing drill.

While there were many outstanding tracks, the cut which blew me away came from recent F.A.M.E. Battle of the Bands winners Blue Background. Fronted by a female vocalist with golden pipes, this quartet blends sophisticated pop, rock and soul with mesmerizing melodies. Definitely keep your ears open for this band! To catch a preview of this band or any of the other great tracks, call 483-1926 for more information.

Copyright 2003 Ad Media Inc.