Ellis/Munk Ensemble

The folks at El Paraiso rarely miss, and this week another great LP rolls out of the gate. This time label co-head Jonas Munk (Causa Sui) heads Stateside for a collaboration with Brian Ellis (Astra, Silver Sunshine). The duo met up in Brian’s environ of San Diego along with a rotating cast of SD musicians from local psych and jazz circles. Members of Astra, Psicomagia, Monarch, Radio Moscow and Sacri Monti all chip into the sessions and the result is prime ‘70s psychedelic jazz with a touch of cosmic chaos from within German borders. Munk’s leads waver from supple and intricate to beset with a bombast of fuzz that burns down any slink he may have left behind. Ellis pushes the keys towards the prog axis, giving the record that grandiose sense of ‘70s self-aggrandizement that let ELP make gatefold albums about mythological creatures in extended suites. The pair singe the ends of that vibe, letting this filter through electric Miles territory (if only the backing band, eschewing any otherworldly horn transcendence).

Their songs ride a tempest of drums and percolating heat through wormholes that radiate in double vision. The El Paraiso set, and Causa Sui themselves, tend toward the outer edges of psychedelic fusion, but this one’s pacing recent works from Mythic Sunship in terms of letting improvisation take hold and push them through uncharted cosmic territory. Personally, when I was first lapping up jazz in younger years the crossover into psychedelic excess came as a flood of new possibilities and this record brings the feelings swimming back. The sense that the edge is visible but never obtainable ripples through this record. It’s hard to pin down and that’s exactly the point. Drop into this and wander around a while.



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