Palace of Ether
Review by Kent Manthie
Back in 1993, in the Bay Area, guitarist Dave Halverson formed Trance Lucid, a band that has continuously focused on instrumental, jazzy, ethereal music that really was a unique sound at the time, compared to all the other stuff going on – pop-rock, punk-pop, “nu-metal” and those Phish-type “jam” bands that proliferated after Jerry Garcia died and a void for Deadheads needed to be filled.
Well, Trance Lucid are an aptly named band. Although they play great instrumental tunes, I would never categorize them as a “jam band”. Although their music has somewhat of a jam session feel to it, they’re so much more – they play tight, structured stuff that is, at the same time, loose, independent, music that, indeed, puts the listener in a trance. When you press “play” and listen to their stuff, you just can’t help but to keep on listening until the very end.
The same is true for their brand new release, Palace of Ether. It’s a sensational CD, with lovely riffs and intricate solos that evoke a jazz-influence, especially the kind of jazz-fusion type of stuff that John McLaughlin and his Mahavishnu Orchestra was putting out in the 1970s on albums like Birds of Fire and The Inner Mounting Flame.
Their first release was Arise, which came out in January of 1996, coincidentally, the exact time that I moved to California(!) At the end of 1997 Halverson and drummer Terry Lee moved the band’s home base to Oakland and started looking for a new bass player, who turned out to be Bill Noertker, in 1998. After that, Trance Lucid started playing a lot around the Bay Area and soon after, put out their second album, Vigil, in August of 2000. After Vigil, the band went on a hiatus of sorts while the members worked on various side projects. Then, in March, 2005, after re-energizing and refocusing, Trance Lucid was back and The Colours of Darkness, was the result. It was a harder-edged, more raw album, taken from the darker sides of the band’s output. In December, 2007 they released a live album, Unrevisited Live, which contained 11 previously unreleased tunes that were recorded at five different venues.
Well, again, Trance Lucid took some time off and now, in 2013, they’re back, with this remarkable album, Palace of Ether. This was an album that took probably the most work out of them – it’s the result of two years of recording and mixing. Unfortunately, bassist Bill Noertker dropped out of the band, but was replaced by keyboardist Richard Bugbee, who added his unique vision to the band, which brings some new dimensions to their sound.
It’s hard to pick out one or two songs on Palace of Ether that stand out, since the whole album is awesome, but just to give you a few examples, the opener, “T M” sets the tone, with a catchy quality to it. “Spyglass”, “Dreams of Antiquity” and the last tune, “Remembrance” are all jazz-inflected, tightly knit wonders that really push the envelope of their genre.