When Adrian Belew first enlisted School of Rockers Eric and Julie Slick for his Power Trio a few years back some people probably thought, “How cute, he’s playing with a couple of teenagers.” But since then the “kids” have gone from merely being very good players to becoming two of the most advanced young musicians on the contemporary rock scene, as evidenced at the Trio’s recent San Francisco show (visit guitarplayer.com to view interviews and concert footage). During that show, Belew repeatedly used a Boomerang to loop sophisticated arpeggiated riffs—often in odd and/or multiple time signatures—while drummer Eric Slick crafted super-tight grooves, playing on and across the beat in turns, and his sister held everything together with smart, muscular bass lines ranging from tight and funky to massively deep and distorted. Belew then used those grooves as launching pads for his post-King Crimson polyrhythmic constructions, multitimbral harmonic mutations, and wildly creative solo excursions.
What does all this have to do with Belew’s new album? Well, just about everything given that the music on e is the Power Trio performing much of the same material live in the studio—real-time looping and all. The album contains a single instrumental composition, subdivided into 11 tracks, though titles are not provided (an online source labels them: a, a2, a3, b, b2, b3, c, d, d2, e, e2). Much of the music is Crimson-esque, with Belew single-handedly holding down the multiple interlocking guitar parts—and he even references his “Indiscipline” solo at the end of the album. Nonetheless, e is a Power Trio record rather than simply being a recap of the guitarist’s past glories, and the three players bring a freshness and enthusiasm to the compositions that clearly brand them as their own. I like it! ABP