Review by John Kelman of All About Jazz
What do you get when you combine the heavy metal bebop lines of Scott Henderson, the inestimable chops of Frank Gambale, the close harmonic voicings of Allan Holdsworth, the occasional rough edges of John McLaughlin and a tinge of Latin affect? Guitarist Claude Pauly, on his debut, Mind Meets Matter, comes close to answering that question, while proving that it’s possible to wear your influences prominently on your sleeve while still moving towards asserting an individual voice.
Focusing on group chemistry rather than a cast of thousands, Pauly has chosen his band mates well: bassist Kai Echkardt and drummer Alan Hertz play together in Garaj Mahal, lending an immediate unity to Mind Meets Matter. The sense of interactive togetherness is further augmented by keyboardist Frank Martin, who has worked with McLaughlin, Richard Bona, and Sting but, based on his work here, deserves greater recognition.
For fusion fans, it doesn’t get much better: Pauly’s writing leans heavily on diverse grooves, sophisticated harmonies, knotty yet surprisingly memorable melodies, and plenty of solo space. With a largely grungy, overdriven tone, he eschews the sonic purity of Holdsworth and goes, instead, for a meatier sound, but his use of whammy bar throughout and the ethereal chords of “The Mirror Intro” make his allegiance clear, as do the more oblique changes of “The Mirror,” which closes the album on a foreboding note, blending Middle Eastern tonalities, reverse-attack, and even some dense, sparse slide guitar.
Elsewhere, Pauly demonstrates no shortage of improvisational fire on “Moorish Maze,” where he solos at length over Eckhardt and Mertz’s fiery funk. Still, when Pauly plays with fierce velocity, as he does on the equally intense “Incarnation Highway,” he uses visceral, Indo-centric microtonal bends to break up his lengthier lines, giving them greater potency. The arpeggios that drive parts of “Incarnation Highway” are a clear nod to early Mahavishnu Orchestra, with Hertz’s brief but powerful drum solo recalling Billy Cobham at his most furious. There may be plenty of references to things past, but Pauly uses programming sparingly to give the music a more contemporary edge.
Martin’s solo intro to the Latin-esque “Sheep’s Clothes” is a brief but rich indicator of his undervalued talent. Pauly may take the majority of the solos on Mind Meets Matter, but it’s Martin’s acute accompaniment that pushes them to occasionally unexpected places. His solos may be rare, but on “Sheep’s Clothes,” with Pauly on nylon string acoustic guitar, Martin proves capable of weaving strong threads through the guitarist’s changes. The same applies to Eckhardt, a strong anchor throughout but, with a sinuous fretless tone, capable of greater lyricism when he’s given a rare opportunity to come out front.
But at the end of the day, group chemistry aside, this is Pauly’s show. Mind Meets Matter is an impressive debut from a guitarist who, despite his unmistakable influences, shows real potential for rising up and becoming a peer alongside those who clearly make him what he is.
John W. Patterson of JazzRock-Radio. com reviews Mind Meets Matter:
“Claude Pauly’s under-the-radar Mind Meets Matter release is one of those CDs that sneaks up on you, song by song, groove by groove and then it’s over and you you find yourself playing it again. In fact, it’s very rare that this jaded music reviewer finds a CD perfectly balanced enough musically to satisfy over and over and over. Yeah, I spun this disc, all day at work, 5 days straight, for like 2.5 weeks. I love this disk! As a fusion junkie, guitarist, and music reviewer — when I hear music like this, I have to rejoice. Great compositions, lotsa grooves, many colorings of tone, solid chops, digging in, blissful, exotic, overdriven, clean, and even a deft use of slide — it all works for a solid 10! Highest recommendations for Tribal Tech meets Holdsworth in a 70s, jam-space, exotic-rock groovefest!” ~ John W. Patterson of JazzRock-Radio. com
Ian Patterson reviews Mind Meets Matter for Independent records
Legions of saxophonists were mesmerized by the sound of Lester Young and Charlie Parker and to this day, John Coltrane; for trumpeters, Miles Davis continues to ensnare many, and for fusion guitarists John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth continue to fascinate. As a bright light does moths, they are sucked in, and if not careful, their own voice is consumed in the flames of reverence. Mind Meets Matter reveals Claude Pauly—eyebrows singed—to be as talented as he is informed by these two great guitarists, although fusion fans will undoubtedly find plenty to admire in an energetic, promising debut recording.
Pauly steers his accomplished quartet through an array of moods and tempos which underline his compositional abilities. The subtle use of effects, Arabic and Indian vibes in palatable doses, and an emphasis on melody combine to keep the listener’s attention for the entire hour of music, which is no mean feat in itself.
“Moorish Maze” begins with a wailing North African incantation; the deep-funk bass of Kai Eckhardt carries the music, and dabs of keyboards punctuate the guitar-led melody out of which Pauly’s improvisation evolves. There is a slightly fuzzy, unclean edge to his guitar playing and an easy fluidity which makes for exciting soloing. Yet he never slides into indulgence, knowing instinctively when to hand over the baton; the ecstatic, guitar-like keyboard solo of Frank Martin recalls the halcyon days of Jan Hammer, and compliments the leader nicely.
The McLaughlin influence on “Quiet Moves”—where at one point the guitar uncannily recreates the Mahavishnu Orchestra circa Birds of Fire (Colombia, 1973)—is evidence not only of the stepping stones to Pauly’s sound, but a reminder of the seemingly ever-growing influence of McLaughlin’s ground-breaking group of the 1970s. Pauly’s bold and imaginative solo, which dominates the second half of the song, shows that technically he is up there with the best of them.
It is not all dazzling runs and intervallic leaps, as Pauly reveals a deft touch on acoustic guitar on “Sheep’s Clothes,” a track where Kai Eckhardt’s enviable fretless skills are to the fore. These days Eckhardt is stirring things up in funk/jam oufit Garaj Mahal with drummer Alan Hertz, but he is most comfortable in an acoustic setting, having made up one third of John McLaughlin’s excellent late eighties trio along with percussionist Trilok Gurtu. Martin’s keyboards add both lyricism and a slightly darker edge to an impressive tune which holds quiet power.
The keyboard intro to “Haunted” again conjures McLaughlin, whose compositional nuances influence Pauly as much as Holdsworth’s sound. The atmospheric intro to “The Mirror Trail” leads into a melodic passage and in turn a more urgent statement from the guitarist, but in the end the melody wins out, and the album closes on a reflective note.
Claude Pauly’s debut delivers much, and carries the promise of still greater things to come. One suspects that it is only a matter of time before he is creating a fire all his own.
Bill MILKOWSKI for JAZZ TIMES MAGAZINE :
Luxembourg-born guitar slinger flaunts dangerous Scott Henderson-styled chops on thunderous fare like “Moorish Maze,” the edgy “Haunted” and the powerhouse Indian flavored “Incarnation Highway,” all fueled by Garaj Mahal rhythm tandem of bassist Kai Eckhardt and drummer Alan Hertz. Pauly’s lyrical string-bending prowess on “The Mirror Trail” recalls Jeff Beck’s classic “Because We Ended As Lovers” while his audacious fretboard work on the fuzz-inflected funk-rocker “The Dipp” tips into the Allan Holdsworth zone. A must for fusion fans.
Guitar Techniques reviews Mind Meets Matter with 4 stars::