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Grand Finale
(2019 - Off Records - Belgium)

Spectacular mold breaking, impelling, and beautifully unpredictable. A unique jazz rock with one foot in the late 60's/early 70's space rock plus psychedelic roots, and the other foot in avant-garde improv and jazz exploration. Although recorded in April 2017 in Briston, London (except the guitar, which was in Bielefeld, Germany), this trio's 'Grand Finale' became a physical and official release in 2019, on the Belgium Off Records label. Tom Clarke (drums), Peter Marsh (bass & electronics) and Chris Jones (guitars) who are all veterans of London's improvisational/experimental music scene, came together back in 2016 with ideas of combining jazz, krautrock, Canterbury and electronica, all in a improvisational format. This recording is one of those, that if you don't know, appears to be partly composed, then presented to the other members to jam to. The outcome is both unusual and impressive. The trippy nature and the undeniable skill of these three musicians is immediately captivating.

Much of the music starts with either a bass line or guitar effects, then develops from there. The spontaneous part of allowing each other to just let go and create on the spot is what keeps the songs so sprite and full of life. Also the quick changes Clarke often makes on drums gives a sharp edge and frames extra directions for the other two to take. The band's name is based on the famous NASA spacecraft that made a miraculous voyage around some planets (Venus, Saturn were two), exploring the vast solar system. Of the many stages of the trip, the last and most stunning was called the 'Grand Finale'. So the whole album is a concept based on this historical mission. Easy to see where the space music style comes in.

Displaying the progressive banner and keeping a celestial atmosphere, the sometimes groove oriented krautrock influenced jams take on a life of their own. Nuances of everything from acid, post rock, cosmic jazz rock, and a big nod to Pink Floyd in their heyday with Sid Barrett, and some love for Jimi Hendrix, give Cassini Flyby a name to remember. 'Grand Finale' will take you back in time, but through several different lenses and dimensions of that said time. The sophistication of their jazz chops (specifically the drums) stretch the boundaries even further. The imaginative arrangements keep the listener guessing, and each piece is as strong as the one before it.

Two bonus tracks are included, and they both sound every bit like their belong, and are as fine as all the other tracks. Issued in a simple gatefold digipak with a limited edition of 200, there is not a lot about the band inside except credits, and a cool retro photo of the trio tells you a lot. The music speaks volumes. This group is truly inventive and a very capable jam outfit, who would surely be a great live show. They know how to stay creative and not sound the same on any two songs. They also make the listener feel a sense of 'lift off' with each cut. Hop aboard for a journey. This is their debut and let's hope not their last.

  ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 1 - 10 - 2020

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