Percy Jones who you probably know for his work as a Bassist with Brand X. Not only that, but he worked with; Soft Machine, The Liverpool Scene, and Brian Eno to name a few. He is a very busy man when it comes to performing with such bands and artists. He is with a new band called MJ12 and they have released their sole self-titled debut album on the Gonzo Multimedia label in the UK. It is a combination between Jazz, Electronic, and Prog-Fusion with amazing strategy.
Taken their name from Majestic 12 which assembled 12 scientists in which they investigated the sights of UFOs. It’s whether or not if the debate about the idea existed or not. The band recorded their album at Shelter Studios in Manhattan in the summer of last year in over two days. I remember hearing one piece of their music on an episode of Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room this July and my eyebrows went-up at the moment of Jones’ bass playing just completely amazed of where he would take the Bass to unbelievable situations either high or low.
He brought along Dave Phelps on Guitar, Chris Bacas on Saxophone, and Stephen Moses on Drums and he wanted it to be spontaneous as if it was tied together as the bits and pieces were coming in and making the compositions coherent. So once you put the album on your CD player, you’re about to experience either powerful chemistry or ominous atmospheres with dynamics.
I remember listening to the album in its entirety and wasn’t quite sure at first, but then I thought “Let me give it another listen.” And throughout the second time, I knew I need to keep playing it again and again. The six highlights on here, show how much MJ12 bring the noise and levels into incredible strength. Bad American Dream Part 2 shows Percy’s haunting opening of a nightmare gone horribly wrong for the first two minutes and fifty-one seconds. And then, it kicks into action.
With a whammy-bar that makes it the guitar sound like it’s going through a sliding rhythm while Moses soars through the drums as he, Dave, and Percy go into insane mode as the sax’s swoop into Egyptian tombs and Avant Free-Jazz while there are some stop-and-go moments and ending into an anti-climactic crescendo a-la Crimson momentum.
Talk Time is one of the most chilling and disturbing compositions I’ve listened to. There is an electronic and futuristic groove as bass is filled with reverb effect. Meanwhile, the guitars sound like a snarling and wall crawling shrieking sound as if something is hunting is prey as the hair on your arms rises up with momentum of this dystopian hell before ending in ominous and hypnotic end.
Magic Mist whispers and echoes Frank Zappa’s Over-Nite Sensation-era while Big Daddy’s Road goes into an electronic jazz rock take of the early days of Black Sabbath. Percy goes towards mid-fast walking lines on the Bass, instant ride cymbals all over the kit that Moses himself is giving the juice and energy throughout the drums and the finale is fast as if Jaco Pastorius had teamed up with The Mahavishnu Orchestra during the sessions of the first two albums.
Since I’ve mentioned about The Mahavishnu Orchestra, MJ12 change direction and go for a slowed-down turned climbing rhythm of The Phantom Maracas. Dave’s guitar transforms through a ‘80s experimentations done in the styles of Alex Lifeson’s textures. I can hear elements of Rush’s Moving Pictures in there, but it’s Bacas that comes center stage.
He adds passion throughout his improvisation on the sax and the band give him the chance to show support and honor of team work. Now Guns and Pussy, there’s a title that has a catchy and humoristic twist. When I first heard the name of the eighth track, I first thought it sounded either a Strip Club or a Motorcycle Bar in the middle of the Mojave Desert, but the arranging and composition is wild and exhilarating right in your face.
Very much going into the path of King Crimson’s The Sailor’s Tale and bits of Italian Jazz-Rock group Area, they are punching into outer space as they let the circle come into full. Saxes, Guitars, Bass, and Drums filling up the void and really giving everything they have. MJ12’s sole self-titled release this year, is as I’ve mentioned earlier, is a powerful chemistry.
It proves that Percy shows no sign of stopping. This is now my third time listening to MJ12. And I have to say that this Jazz Rock/Fusion at its finest. I hope they will do some more and hopefully a follow-up to their debut and defying significance. So if you admire Brand X, Weather Report, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Frank Zappa, then go ahead and pick up MJ12.