Although the upstate New York-based Oshe offer plenty of extended solos and exploratory grooves, the instrumental group isn't easily pigeonholed. With a nod to Herbie Hancock's far-out funk as well as the molten riffs of John Mclaughlin, Oshe (pronounced ah-shay) aren't your typical patchouli-soaked meanderers. Musical discipline and moments of genuine risk-taking set the band apart from the growing horde of neo-jam acts.
Which isn't to say Oshe doesn't have a formula. By the end of opening track "Treachery," it's pretty easy to understand what The Good Book is all about -- namely, rock-solid grooves that blossom into mildly psychedelic opuses. Ken Love's muscular bass lines form the foundation for guitarist Will Senisi's fusion-inspired fretboard runs, while keyboardist Jake Savage fills the empty spaces with chordal stabs and swirling synth pads. One of the most "melodic" drummers I've heard in some time, Adam Ochshorn's fills are highly orchestrated and impeccably executed.
"Chinese Wings" is a good example of Oshe's prog leanings; multiple time shifts and a repetitive, atonal riff put the tune more in league with Mahavishnu Orchestra than moe. Clever and fun, the song is probably even more engaging live.
A sleek groove and space-age guitar figure make "Regicide" a standout cut. Trance inducing rhythms, adventurous sonic textures and a subtly menacing arrangement give the track a vibe rarely found in the feel-good world of jam-rock. Sure, you can twirl-dance to it, but there are enough musical twists to entertain the eggheads.
Despite the title, "T & A" is hardly a frat-party anthem. Metallic and foreboding, the song provides Senisi with a great opportunity to show off his jazz/prog chops. Keeping the chaos in check, Ochshorn's precision snare blasts navigate the band through bursts of six-string splatter.
For a self-released effort, The Good Book's production holds up well enough, especially in quieter moments. Keyboardist Savage is given plenty of breathing room on the title track, space he uses to fine effect. As the tune builds to its shimmering conclusion, you realize these guys aren't just coasting.
It's nice to hear a group that pushes further than most contemporary jam-bands. Oshe obviously take their compositions seriously -- if they keep at it, they might serve as a link between modern groove-rock and the fusion groups of yore. Hear 'em at Nectar's this Thursday, February 3, with The Breakfast.