Step In Fluid – One Step Beyond

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Review by Jason Guest

With many a monster riff taken through many an unexpected twist and turn, Step In Fluid – consisting of a couple of members from such French underground bands as Sinscale, Klone and Trepalium – throw in many an oft-taken opportunity for each musician to display their individual talents. The guitar work of Harun Demiraslan and Aldrick Guadagnino consists of angular riffs, funky chords, and off-kilter lead lines; Stephan Dupe’s bass grooves along with the drums, his lines peppered with the odd expressive vibrato; and Florent Marcadet’s astounding drum work is simultaneously solid and restrained, nuanced with delicate touches and providing a firm foundation for the band to groove along with. The syncopated hi-hat funk of ‘Vicious Connection’ and the slower ‘Color’, contrast well with ‘Dead End’, a track that offers a mellow re-interpretation of what we’ve heard so far and is so laid back as to be horizontal. The heavy riff-driven beast that is ‘Beat Hunter’ stomps its way through twisted licks and odd time-signatures into ‘The Bridge’, the simple structure developing from a mellow jam on a simple idea to a heavy riff groove. The aptly titled ‘Smooth’ is another laid-back piece where the band let the drums do the work while they decorate the simple beat with a bunch of mellow textures. And finally comes ‘As We Dance’, a massive, technical riff-based track where the its melodic lead blossoms out of the off-kilter riffs that meanders into trad jazz territory, the hard-blown squeaking sax screaming for its life as the funk, the jazz, the groove and the technique and musicianship come together for an anti-climax. Why an anti-climax? Because 30 minutes of this simply isn’t enough.

The musicianship is outstanding, the band tighter than the seal on the Starship Enterprise’s toilet door, and the tracks have more hooks than Batman’s utility belt. The guitar work is accomplished, with many a style explored, mastered and seamlessly incorporated into each song; the rhythm section works together to allow both bass and drums to lay down the groove and to add their own expressive flourishes, the bass in particular having an almost vocal quality here and there; and the production, too, is neat, polished, and refined. A far cry from most jazz/fusion/metal/rock albums that remain caught up in the trappings of technical ability, One Step Beyond is a rock/jazz hybrid that is remarkable.

8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. One Step Beyond
  2. Vicious Connection
  3. Color
  4. Dead End
  5. Beat Hunter
  6. The Bridge
  7. Smooth
  8. As We Dance