A Trick of the Wind
Erik Scott is both the reviewer's hero and villain. Hero because he envisions, composes, and performs (with guest stars) some of the most brilliant, imaginative, and beautiful genre-blending instrumental music on the planet. Villain because it's damn near impossible to convey in words his genius and talent. A Trick of the Wind actually eclipses his previous album, In the Company of Clouds, when it comes to taking music to heretofore unexplored heights of unique approaches to multiple musical influences, woven into a luminescent web that defies expectations of the listener, no matter how lofty they may have been.
While Scott made his living playing bass, in rock bands (creating a formidable resume in the process), he displays talent on a myriad of instruments throughout A Trick…including electric piano, organ, synthesizer, electric sitar, programmed percussion, vocals and three different basses: fretted, fretless and eBow. And while that is an impressive list, Scott brought along some top notch guests on the recording as well, including frequent collaborator John Pirruccerllo on steel guitar. Others contributing are a trio of vocalists (Larry Batiste, Bryan Dyer, and Sandy Griffith), Celso Alberti (acoustic drums, percussion, drum loops), John Luttrell (electric guitar), Andy Mitran (percussion), Jeff Pearce (guitar synthesizer) and Jeff Oster (trumpet and flugelhorn). Alberti appears on every track and the others vary, some are on a few songs, others make one memorable appearance (e.g. Oster's muted horns add just the right amount of hip jazziness to "Ghosts of Storyville" which, to me, evokes a funeral procession striding down the streets of the French Quarter in N'awlins. The shuffling beat suggests the slow, measured, yet rhythmic gait of the mourners, yet the song itself is not in the least bit sad!
I wish I had time to make detailed notes on every song, but standouts for me include the eerie yet gorgeous "The Wind Sings a Strange Song" (the track with guitar wunderkind Jeff Pearce), the somber title track which interweaves ambient sound-sculpting with a muted rhythm that gradually punches up the drama a tad near the end, "Solocca…Heart Wind" with mournful slide guitar, soulful wordless vocals, and a sultry rhythm anchored by bass and drum kit beats, and "A Wing and a Prayer" on which Scott displays a deft touch on the ivories and the organ, both on display in this quasi-chill out tune.
Needless to say, Scott's affinity for, talent on, and love of his main instrument, the electric bass, flows through A Trick of the Wind from beginning to end. I have to admit that until I discovered Scott's music (2014's Spirits), I never thought I could love bass as the lead instrument, but this rocker-turned-instrumentalist made me "see the error of my ways." Erik Scott is a true innovator and the only problem he will have going forward is finding new frontiers to explore and reveal depths of beauty and wonder. On the other hand, he seems to be doing just fine in the regard so far. Lead on, sir!