Ray Riendeau, Atmospheres [Groove Theory]

If you only knew Arizonabased Ray Riendeau from his main sideman gig of recent years—as the touring/recording bassist for Halford, the Judas Priest vocalist’s solo project— you’re in for a shock.
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If you only knew Arizonabased Ray Riendeau from his main sideman gig of recent years—as the touring/recording bassist for Halford, the Judas Priest vocalist’s solo project— you’re in for a shock. But even those who know of his versatility might be startled by this highly ambitious release, which features Riendeau both holding it down low and pushing himself up high on piccolo bass, and ripping out solos that alternate between sensitive high-register melodies and dizzying technical fingerstyle chops. Ray’s compositional vision is an unorthodox series of frenetically shifting grooves and moods, hence the album’s title. The first two tunes alone, “Cosmic Dust” and “The Alchemist,” have so many light-speed feel changes and difficult unison passages that you can practically feel your hair blowing back. Even when it mellows out (“A Search for Lifeforms”, “Slumber”), there’s still a ton of stuff going on. With healthy dollops of techno texture, traditional jazz, and heavy rock—and no shortage of bass virtuosity—Atmospheres displays Riendeau’s boundless energy on the instrument, and was made for those who prefer their instrumental fusion aggressive, dense, and unafraid.

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