Radiation

UKZ

Eddie Jobson is at it again — though it's been 27 years. Let me explain: the former Roxy Music/Jethro Tull/Frank Zappa/UK keyboardist/violinist/composer has been working in his home studio the past three decades or so, running two labels, winning Clios for commercial jungles, scoring TV shows ("Nash Bridges" is one of them) ,and conducting the Bulgarian Woman's Choir. Not that the lanky blonde musician isn’t busy enough, he decided to hold YouTube auditions about a year ago to cull together a smokin' band.
The result is the five-piece UKZ and their first release is a four-song EP entitled Radiation.

The nearly eight-minute title track sounds at times like Nine Inch Nails, other times like King Crimson, and still other times like UK. Atmospheric snippets break into a full-speed ahead snapping rock tome, driven by Marco Minnemann's drumming and the vocals of newcomer Aaron Lippert. In the middle of the tune, things mellow out as Jobson's violin comes in (or is it Alex Machacek's guitar?). Actually, when I spoke with Jobson recently, he said he didn’t particularly want the listener to know which instrument was taking the lead. This approach definitely speaks to the band effort evident on Radiation.

“Houston” is a mellow one, again set against a nice, atmospheric opening with Jobson and former King Crimson bassist Trey Gunn and his amazing his Warr touch-style 10-string guitar. Lippert sounds really good, as much of a surprising talent as Machacek. I expected Jobson to be in a class by himself, and with veterans like Gunn and Minnemann on board, it seems like the possibilities are endless. But Lippert and Machacek, young and virtually unknown, unquestionably brought their game to this record.

“Tu-95” features Minnemann with his dead-on snare and almost tribal sensibilities, plus some nice coloring from Jobson (or is it Gunn or is it Machacek). The song breaks out into something totally different, slightly scary, with the violin taking the lead. “Legend,” a mellow solo guitar piece, makes for a nice ending.

It’s great to hear Jobson out with a real band after all these years. I asked him why he chose to return a band setting. He said UKZ is very much the result of his failed attempt to reunite UK with John Wetton, Terry Bozzio and Allan Holdsworth. With UKZ, he feels ' “healthier” and he’s up to the challenge of taking the band though more contemporary waters. On Radiation, the compass is set and all points are heading north.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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