Having begun “in earnest” as an acoustic jazz project, certain musical evolutions have led the Inner Journeys trio of Bob Ravenscroft (piano), Dwight Kilian (bass) and Rob Moore (drums) to new styles. In the case of Phantasmagoria, the trio have turned towards prog-rock synths and ambient sounds.
Recorded as a series of excerpts from weekly recording sessions, the album seems to do a pretty good job of capturing the mood and essence of some sci-fi B movie from the 1970s: particularly tracks like Commencement, Turbulence and Lost Steps, in which the synth has been laid on the heaviest. These are broken up by short excerpts of solo piano, which can help to provide some respite from all the synth. But with the track lengths of some of these pieces being so short – the shortest finishing at just 46 seconds – it occasionally feels as though a track has ended before it has really said anything.
This isn’t to doubt the musicianship of the players here, and there are indeed moments of skill to be appreciated: Ravenscroft’s aforementioned moments of solo introspection, Moore’s thunderous rolling drums solos, and a particular bass groove by Kilian on the surreal Chilly The Kid.
If you’re a fan of prog-rock and classic ambient electronic music, then much of what Phantasmagoria has to offer might well be right up your alley. In which case, perfect. But for me, it’s a bit bland, outdated, and with an overall running length of 21 tracks at just over an hour, too long.
Commencement; Emergence; Melancholy; Traffic Jam; Icicles; Wandering; Ethereal; Chilly The Kid; Pretty Down; Turbulence; Vapors; Tranquility; Foreboding; Crying Out; Searching; Mad Jazz Tea; Lost Steps; Love Remembered; Bass Peace; Unrest; Pure Light (61.42)
Ravenscroft (p, syn); Dwight Kilian (b); Rob Moore (d, syn). AZ, 5-15 January 2019.
OA2 Records OA2 22176