?Babylon? is the recorded debut of Harmonize Most High; a band that boasts among its ranks the likes of jazz legend Daniel Carter along with Tim Kieper, Robert Ryan, Michael Sternbach, and Jon Francis. The main band also regularly augments itself with guests sprinkled throughout the seven tracks on this album, creating a rather diverse musical experience. The sounds created here owe to a plethora of origins including free jazz, folk, Indian classical music and even some touches of hip-hop courtesy of D?lek.
Experientially the album maintains a more nebulous, stylistically shifting feel for the first two tracks, before it settles into a suite of improvisations that seem to really feed off of and create a distinct musical dialogue with one another. The middle suite of four tracks in many ways highlights the album while the beginning two and final track display different aspects of the band improvisational explorations. On a track by tack basis the album never truly falters, each piece creates an enticing sound world, yet its when the band slips into a heavy, eastern jazz vibe that they seem most at home.
This aspect truly begins with the third track ?Gareb? and finds its resolve in ?Ophel?. It is here where Harmonize Most High are able to pull the listener into a warm, mysterious embrace that was only hinted at on the first two cuts. They manage to create an environment where smoke and shadows play alongside bright sun soaked fields of sound. Where trumpet, flute, alto and tenor sax flow throughout watery percussion, mixing and commingling with sitars, bouzouki and a plethora of other instrumentation.
One may find it mildly disappointing that the album does not find its overall resolve with ?Ophel? but continues onto the more jazz based vamps of ?Zion?. Again this is not necessarily stuff to be missed, but at the same time its placement detracts from the wonderfully perfumed setting of the middle suite
. To their benefit they do attempt to reintroduce elements and themes of the center suite
, but unfortunately its too little to late, as the dream state has fully dissipated by this point.
This is not to say that ?Babylon? is by any means a disappointing record, it is in fact quite the opposite. The issues are simply more involved in sequencing as opposed to the music itself. 8/10 -- Cory Card (16 July, 2008)