STRATOSPHEERIUS: THE NEXT WORLD
REVIEW BY MICHAEL POPKE ON WWW.SEAOFTRANQUILITY.COM
The fact that in-demand electric violinist Joe Deninzon has performed with everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Ritchie Blackmore to Johnny Mathis and Smokey Robinson suggests that his band Stratospheerius has broad appeal. And does it ever!
This New Jersey-based outfit’s distinct hybrid of progressive rock, jam band, funk, jazz and Gypsy influences turns Stratospheerius’ latest album, The Next World…, into a formidable musical beast. The disc opens with “Release,” a track that evokes Kansas’ savvy use of violin, borrows a reggae-pop beat and boasts an elegant vocal arrangement akin to Spock’s Beard. The Yes influence begins showing up in “The Missing Link,” the manic “Tech Support” bounces along like something Umphrey’s McGee could have written, “Climbing” has a late-summer country-rock groove that would work on mainstream radio, and “The House Always Wins” is a sparse blues ditty.
Lyrically, Stratospheerius is just as adventurous, with Deninzon’s chameleon voice shifting on each song, not so much dominating these tunes as inhabiting them. And a trio of instrumentals — two wild ones (“Road Rage” and “Fleshbot”) and the mellowest track on the album (“Ballad for Ding Bang”) — showcases Deninzon’s prowess while not slighting his talent-rich band: guitarist Aurelien Budynek, bassist Jamie Bishop and drummer Lucianna Padmore.
Every Deninzon and Stratospheerius album is worthy of your attention, but if you’re new to these guys, start here. And if you’re not — well, you know you want this…
Track Listing: 1) Release 2) The Missing Link 3) Tech Support 4) Climbing 5) Fleshbot 6) The House Always Wins 7) Gods 8) Ballad for Ding Bang 9) Road Rage 10) One Foot in the Next World 11) The Prism