The worst thing about being in an instrumental trio is that if you screw up‚ there's very little to hide behind. Luckily‚ Bad Suit is making music they can stand up for. Nestling comfortably into the forgotten world of prog-funk‚ Bad Suit's eponymous debut is music made for the players' ears. More inducing of smirk-faced head-nods than dancefloor-filling funk struts‚ Bad Suit at its best imposes an awe-driven stillness.
"The Gooseneck Appendage" is reminiscent of the sound many late-'70s fusion masters brought to the synthesized world of the early '80s. Structured like something off Al DiMeola's Electric Rendezvous‚ or even like a more tasteful Joe Satriani cut‚ the threesome are able to lock and punch the form here with the best of the post-jazz troubadours. Kevin Stevens has a touch eerily similar to John Scofield‚ yet his first solo proves he has very much found his own voice on the electric guitar. As "Gooseneck" opens into a double-time dance groove‚ it sounds like a somewhat unnatural attempt to appeal to a dance-friendly audience‚ but Stevens' precision attack keeps the focus on the player.
All great fusion albums have their refined ballad‚ and Alex Budney's bass harmonics on "Wrong Way Gone" create the sonic delicacies that leave you completely unprepared for the fiercely odd-counted groove that arises in the second part of the song. Still‚ Tim Sharbaugh's prolific touch on drums makes this obscure count accessible to the casual listener while still managing to keep the band locked in horse hooves-they're so stuck together on this one the Elmer's is dripping.
Things tend to get stretched out pretty far on most of these tunes‚ and "Inside Out" would hold more strength if it was minus a few bars of soloing. Budney loves to slap and has the touch for it‚ but at times the bass hits can be a little underwhelming. A straight-up deep end on "Inside Out" could beef up the occasional tentative moments. For a band equally influenced by Steely Dan and Led Zeppelin‚ though‚ it's hard to deny the strength of the harder parts. On album-closer "Sometime‚" Stevens strikes with bolts from Mordor as another guitar track resonates underneath-both the darkest and downright raddest part of the album. Bad Suit may come off as too complex at times for the novice fusionist‚ but other grooves might welcome those same heads into a whole new musical strata. Those who know their history‚ however‚ will be fully intrigued with these new cats testing the waters.