Are you jonesing for some improvisational funky fusion? Look no further than Trippin' Wet, the stunning debut by Ryan Drolet. Drolet is a master guitarist whose name may not be familiar to most people, but give yourself one session with this CD and you won't forget the name too soon. Influences are not too obvious, but at various times I was reminded of Al Dimeola, The Dixie Dregs and the funky pop of Steely Dan.
The promotional material denotes an "off the floor" recording, which quickly becomes apparent. Just push play, kick back in your easy chair and close your eyes. The recording is quite dynamic and you might feel as if you're in the studio with the musicians.
"Spy Song" starts things off in moody fashion. Its dark and ambient tone is quite different in comparison to the remainder of the CD, which is otherwise chock full of positive emotions.
"November" is improvisational in nature, but always lyrical and melodic. It is here that one realizes that as much as Trippin' Wet is a guitar lovers delight, Drolet willingly shares the limelight with the fine keyboard skills of Dan Graham. Graham sprinkles some great electric piano tones on "November" and elsewhere.
"Stratosfear" (not the Tangerine Dream epic) contains more overtly jazzy qualities, mainly conveyed by its unconventional and angular rhythm. I'm reminded a little of Return to Forever, especially with regard to the spacey keyboards. This is nice stuff. "Rubber Band" finds Drolet and company stretching out for 8 minutes over a snappy, almost danceable beat. There's plenty of hot guitar soloing here, but also a section where Drolet adds a funky bed of rhythm underneath a keyboard solo that just makes me smile every time. It has the same effect on me as "School" by Supertramp.
Trippin' Wet contains some fine short compositions as well. "Modus Operandi" really wouldn't be out of place on Steely Dan's Katy Lied; nice reverbed and echoed wah guitar on this one! "Monkeys" is as playful as its title might suggest. Plentiful solos by Drolet and Graham ensure that much music is compressed into just five minutes.
Ryan Drolet is off to a great start with his debut. He has monstrous chops and a cracking band to accompany him. Here's hoping that Trippin' Wet finds the audience it very much deserves . Bravo!
- Spy Song (4:58)
- November (6:27)
- Stratosfear (5:48)
- Modus Operandi (3:07)
- Rubber Band (8:33)
- Amian (6:45)
- A Minor Jam (4:20)
- Monkeys (4:49)