Finely Tuned Elephant: The Fast Life

Canadian trio applies blistering energy and superb musicianship in a convincing homage to the 1980s jazz-fusion style typified by Casiopea

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Canadian trio Finely Tuned Elephant formed in 2019, and The Fast Life, released in March this year, is their second full-length album. The band lists their influences as, among others, Casiopea, the legendary Japanese jazz-fusion group, and Snarky Puppy, who have been at the top of the modern jazz/fusion hierarchy for several years. As a result, their music is infused with blistering energy and superb musicianship throughout.

It begins with The Fast Life and a glittering 80s synth opens the track, before reverb-drenched lead guitar from Jordan Robinson takes centre-stage with compound time riffs and chromatic runs. The third track, Third Eye, immediately calls to mind the Casiopea-esque style with a clean electric guitar, slapped bass and an upbeat, catchy chord progression. There are more laidback tracks such as Much Ado About Nothing, which opens with a distant, grainy jazz-organ motif, before the guitar, bass and drum trio take over with a shimmering, modern arrangement, with sections of walking bass and smooth lead playing from Robinson.

On drums Kyle Iveglia provides a range of styles, from tight grooves on Now We’re Cookin’ to the variety of Neon Skyline, a distinctly contemporary piece that ranges through light high-hat sections, straight 4/4 beats and syncopated fills. On bass, Cyrus Robertson Orkish’s playing goes from slapping to walking via everything in between; a particular highlight is his cool, melodic bass line on the fantastically groovy Sunrise Ride, complete with 7/8 breakdown.

A fantastically inventive recording, The Fast Life pays homage to 80s fusion as well as contemporary jazz, while staying original with interesting and imaginative compositions. It’s definitely worth checking out, and is available on the band’s Bandcamp page as both a digital and CD release.

Discography
The Fast Life; Daisy Enterprise; Third Eye; Sunrose Ride; Now We’re Cookin’; Much Ado About Nothing; Neon Skyline; New Kind (45.14)
Jordan Robinson (g); Cyrus Robertson Orkish (b); Kyle Iveglia (d). Ontario, 2021.
Finely Tuned Studios