Endless Season — Paths and Crossroads
The live video that presents Squaring the Circle encapsulates everything that is good about this band. Endless Season certainly know how to create a tune that has a great hook, fine playing, and thrilling shifts of tempo. There are many highlights in this presentation, but the beautiful free flowing bass solo is just so perfectly formed that it catches my breath every time.
Thankfully, the rest of Paths and Crossroads is equally well played and composed. This album is highly recommended if you enjoy the music of bands such as Return to Forever, Weather Report and Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia. Many years ago I was smitten by Endless Season's debut album and their follow up album released some six years later is equally impressive and in many ways show a band that have fine-tuned and developed their art.
Founding members Lorenzo Di Prima bass and Paolo Busatto guitars remain in the line-up from their debut release. The rest of the band that performs on Paths and Crossroads are Andrea Cecchetto drums, Luca Ardini Sax, and Francesco Pollon Keyboards. Busatto is perhaps better known for his work with Italian prog band Mad Fellaz, however his mastery of a range of tones and timbres is equally suited to the progressive fusion style of Endless Season. His flowing fretted yelps and yowls in the wonderful Paradox are filled with an abundance of spine tingling moments.
The band have a recognisable sound that is often built upon rhythmic riffs, where the interaction between Di Prima's sublime bass and Busatto's pulsating guitar tones and the other members of the ensemble often play a prominent part. However, both saxophone and keys have important roles that give the music depth and a full-bodied sound. The album contains some delightful keyboard sections and numerous hard blowing sections. The sax and keyboard interaction in the middle section of Paradox are simply quite stunning.
I particularly like the opening section of No Excuses, it has an authentic vintage jazz fusion sound and the keyboard fills are gorgeous. However, when the need arises it really rocks and the squealing synth parts bring an extra zest to the bands lively effervescent sound.
Apart from being excellent players the band have not forgotten that a good tune can make or break an album. Certainly, Endless Season's music is littered with hum along hooks and memorable passages. Just listen to the outstanding bass parts in 47 which clutch the senses and are contained by the pull of an ear friendly tune. In this respect the music is accessible and seldom makes forays into challenging avenues where discordance rather than melody is a prominent ingredient.
Moonlight Parade is a shining example of the bands ability to play with subtlety when the need arises. This largely acoustic piece gently washes the soul and drapes the listener in a comfortably accessible garment of loose-fitting sonic robes.
The two concluding pieces show that Endless Season can move beyond their usual style. Exhalations a reflective piece has an organic ambient feel where the influence of contemplative post rock comes to the fore. This change of emphasis works well in the context of the running order of the album and this introspective gentle mood continues in Deep Surface (Outro:Remembering) as the album gently washes and drifts away.
The sound quality of Paths and Crossroads is superb. Every instrument has room to breathe and special mention should be made to Overdrive recording studios who did the mixing and The Boiler Room Mastering who put the final changes to the project. Because of its glorious sonic qualities it is easy to immerse yourself in the album and revel in its great dynamic range and instrumental subtleties. For example, Busatto's acoustic guitar parts in the playful free flowing 47 sound delightfully fresh and natural.
My favourite piece is probably Do You Wanna Play With Me. Although it arguably offers little that is innovative or unique, its timeless style, ingredients and qualities are so successful, I just love the way the band members interact with each other. It burns slowly in a somewhat predictable manner and evolves as you might expect. However, its bluesy feel works so well in the context of the album. It is a piece that should appeal to any prog fans who enjoy the ageless combination of a screeching guitar and fluid organ offering lots of structured support.
Paths and Crossroads has been consistently on my playlist since I first heard it and I don't think that I will be removing it any time soon. If you want to experience some easy on the ear fusion that is impeccably played and composed, then I urge you to look no further.