Album Review: Garage a Trois – Power Patriot

The track “Purgatory,” which comes a little more than halfway through Garage a Trois’ Power Patriot, bears the mark of Marco Benevento. The core of the band – sax madman Skerik, thunderous drummer Stanton Moore, and vibraphone master Mike Dillon – have never shied away from heavy fuzz and boiling drums, and the addition of Benevento introduces another lover of noise to the mix. But that’s not what makes “Purgatory” so reminiscent of Benevento’s style – it’s the spacey, ambient twinkling that bookends the fuzzy noise.

Some may say that adding another composing, performing powder keg of virtuosity to this band’s already volatile mix is overdoing it, but Power Patriot proves otherwise. There is an astounding amount of music to be made from the combination of these musicians. Granted, Garage a Trois isn’t going to take over the world as long as Stanton Moore has Galactic going, but they’re more than deserving of attention from instrumental music lovers, and Power Patriot is a big lovin’ slice of dark-edged mysteryfunk (to cop a word from the band).

The mystery of their funk lies in the Zappa-like compositional feats and melodic workmanship that occurs every time these guys gather in a room. Also, there’s the matter of Skerik’s fascination with jarring effects and noise, Dillon’s barely-controlled genius behind the vibes, and Moore’s ability to manage any rhythmic need. With Benevento adding even more note-grinding insanity into the mix, Skerik is allowed to blast away at will, and within his bleating, distorted sax work lies the reason that Power Patriot works: it never gets too out of hand.

“Rescue Spreaders” is a bit of a jarring opener, but the album quickly gets into a groove. “Fragile” is as representative a track as these guys could have recorded, full of unthinkable melodic ideas and noisy outbursts that never overstay their welcome. “Dory’s Day Out” is driven by Dillon, and the song has the feel of Tortoise circa turn of the millennium: gliding melodies, dramatic tonal flourishes, and drums that nudge instead of push. “Electric Door Bell Machine” puts more weight behind Moore’s drums, showcasing the band’s endless dynamic range and letting some funk action enter into the proceedings.

The title track alone is worth seeking out. “Power Patriot” is a playful tune that lives up to its name with stomping sax-metal hooks and delightful interplay. Each track of this album impresses more than the previous, and by the time the monstrous closer “Computer Crimes” graces your speakers, you’ll be ready to go again.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10

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