Sound — 9
The Aristocrats are a jazz-fusion instrumental band formed "by accident" according to the band members, in 2011, consisting of the worshippable Guthrie Govan on guitar, Dethklok's Bryan Beller on bass and longtime session musician Macro Minnemann on drums. Their eponymous debut record was released in September 2011.
The record is produced by Jimmy Johnson along with the band themselves. The mixing has been done in such a way that each instrument is given enough room to breathe, and no instrument is too overbearing or inaudible in the overall mix. This is a major plus - the album as a whole is fairly sonically precise.
The album opens with "Boing!... I'm in the Back," one of the album's crazier tracks. The band channels various influences, from King Crimson to Frank Zappa throughout the record, and on this particular song the Zappa influence is evidently prominent due to the spectacular absurdity of it all. The everchanging tempos make for a pleasant listen which does not prove to be tiring and the recurring riff - that wouldn't sound too out of place at a carnival - fits perfectly. Following with "Sweaty Knockers" and "Bad Asteroid," respectively, these tracks ultimately emphasise upon Govan's brilliant leads while successfully managing to integrate Beller and Minnemann into the mix without them being totally overshadowed.
In fact, no particular band member gets overshadowed - each member has their time to shine. Minnemann's incredibly tight drumming is showcased perfectly on "Sweaty Knockers" while album closer "Flatlands" features a far more modest yet no less powerful beat - the drumming is not always technical, but it quickly becomes apparent when listening that it does not necessarily need to be. Beller's playing on songs such as "See You Next Tuesday" is mind-bogglingly quick in some instances, whereas tracks like the ten minute epic appropriately titled "I Want a Parrot," showcase a far jazzier style of playing. The album consistently maintains a similarly high level of quality while maintaining a sleazy, jazzy atmosphere throughout and each song has its twists and turns which ultimately add to the experience.
Lyrics — 10
The music really does speak entirely for itself - each instrument sounds incredible in the mix and each has its standout moment. Govan's guitar wails beautifully and his tone fits extremely well with the type of music being played - this is particularly clear on the album's bluesier tracks like the aptly named "Blues F--kers" and the soothing "Flatlands." Beller and Minnemann, too, contribute rhythms that also speak entirely for themselves. Not much else I can really discuss lyrically in regards to this purely instrumental effort.
Overall Impression — 10
The Aristocrats' debut album showcases the clear talents of all three band members on their respective instruments and musically, remains consistently stellar throughout. The production along with the music itself are both beyond solid.
Standout tracks are extremely difficult to decide upon as the album is consistently a remarkable example of modern jazz fusion and each track flows into one another almost seamlessly, but the tracks "I Want a Parrot" and "Sweaty Knockers" and the full utilisation of their extended lengths in order to showcase the individual talent of Govan, Beller and Minnemann respectively certainly pays off in that respect.