Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius: The Next World…

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius
The Next World…
(Digital Nations)

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A soft riff violin in the float-y opening track, “Release,” begins Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius’s new release, The Next World... There are a lot of twists and turns here with Joe’s tight vocals and outstanding violin playing leading the way. It’s all fusion/funk with “Tech Support” reminding me of some of that close-fret touching technique Steve Via is known for, so it’s not surprising to see that J.D. & S are signed to Vai’s Digital Nations label. “Climbing,” placed at about the right time in the midst of these eleven, is a softer, swampy number. Despite this being Joe’s best vocals up to this point, and how things get wild and heavy in the middle, mining Dixie Dregs territory, it really is bassist Jamie Bishop who stands out here.

“Fleshbot” is an impressive instrumental roiling tune (but talk about Dixie Dregs!). I love the light touch that guitarist Aurelien Budynek manages on “The House Always Wins,” with J.D. showcasing his mandolin technique and a goofy Lyle Lovett-like vocal. “Gods” is heavy funk with some great trills and fat power chords from Budynek (not to mention a fine cutting lead) and what Modern Drummer mag calls drummer Lucianna Padmore’s “deep grooves and serious fusion chops.”

If I had any criticism really here, I’d say these 11 might have benefited from some editing, but I find this is often the case with blisteringly adroit players used to showing off their chops. A picayune point though, Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius’s new release, The Next World, is a truly delightful breath of fresh funk air.

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