After exploding onto this scene a few years ago, Buffalo jamband Aqueous has only charted themselves further into the musical stratosphere lately. Currently, they’re gearing up to be the opening act for Umphrey’s McGee this summer, in and around plans to make their mark on big events like Summer Camp this weekend, Disc Jam, Peach Fest, Highberry Music Festival, and much more.
In the meantime, fans have a terrific new collection of material to rock out to. The band has just released Element Pt. I, a live album taken from various shows on their tour earlier this spring. With just six tracks on the record, the EP showcases the apex of Aqueous’ improvisational prowess. While we don’t want to spoil the surprise of all the sounds from this release, here’s a brief rundown of what we’re digging on it.
Element Pt. I starts out with a real bang, with “The Median.” Starting out on a feel good groove, some of the first (of many) muddy, pedaled-out tones divert things into the first great funk out of the album. Once their grooving hits a stride, it sails upward to a monstrous, thrilling climax – several sublime minutes of intense rock jamming.
“Second Sense” slows things back a bit, but is just as energized, thanks to some crispy drumming work from Rob Houk. “Aldehyde,” jumps off this second track to be a full on disco rager, with twenty minutes of modulated tempos for several different waves of hard dance rock. Heads up for the gorgeous saxophone playing that alights the funk with a golden touch half way through.
“Warren in the Window” and “Staring Into The Sun” bring out Aqueous’ prog rock side, featuring some of the daring compositional work the band is known for. But they venture just as far out as the other tracks. On “Window,” Aqueous’ bass player, Dave Loss, throws out some cool, deep notes to lead the band through some heavy staccato-type rocking. The last stretch finds the band slaloming seamlessly between funkier dirges and quick punk rock sprints, with the group’s guitar wizard, Mike Gantzer, letting loose in passionate, frenzied moments. “Sun,” especially, is an amazing composition, maybe the most epic in the band’s catalogue so far. Staggering riffs from all instruments intersperse cool, spacier sections, harkening the glory of the worlds of both Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath.
The EP finishes out as strongly as it starts, with “Kitty Chaser (Explosions),” a recipe for some straight hard-fire rocking. The improv on this one pulls everything towards a whacko-peak, the rhythm section giving Gantzer and fellow guitar player and keyboardist, Evan McPhaden, more room to dazzle.
As if they weren’t convincing people already, Aqueous certainly proves further on Elements Pt. I that they’re one of the most formidable, and the most fun, on the rise jambands going today. We fully recommend checking out this dynamite new EP, and catching the quartet when and where you can this summer.
Head to the band’s website to get the album and learn more.
Article by Miles Hurley