The Voltage Unit project began in late 2000 as a means of creating more experimental music. As the project evolved it was evident that it had become an alter ego for the writing of guitarist/composer/producer Kenn Fox.
The album contains 14 dynamic instrumental compositions showcasing the guitar work of Kenn Fox and the percussion wizardry of acclaimed Indian percussionist Raj Alwa. Each piece is a soundscape bursting with melody and framed with sounds gathered or created by the artists on their many field recording expeditions.
Written and produced by Kenn Fox. Recorded, edited and mastered in analog at Randy's Recording, Cottage Grove, WI. Additional recording and mastering by Vinny Millevolte, Axis and Trevor Sadler, Mastermind.
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Audio CD: one disc
Release Date: 1/10/2023
Number of Discs: 1
Electricity. It is the building block of life and innovation. As ancient as time itself, and the means in which we as a species propel ourselves into the future. Kenn Fox’s Voltage Unit understands the essence of electricity. This enigmatic and mesmeric album, Send, mixes the tribal echoes of the past with the sophisticated touch of modernity. Much like the crackling bedrock of life from which this group’s name is formed from; this album ebbs and flows with moments of tranquility, to booming and bombastic torrents of flourishing guitar lines and polyrhythmic currents.
The album begins, funnily enough, at the end, with a track called "Delta." This track instantly transports you into a fog of feedback and white noise; like a radio tuning in to some strange and foreign place; its wavelengths undulating with currents from an unknown time; like the soil of the Mississippi rolling down the country from thousands of years ago.
From this point, you are brought crashing into the world of "Send." The title track shows you instantly what this album is going to be: a beautiful fusion of international sounds concocted by Kenn Fox’s beautiful guitar tones, expertly moving from acoustic to electric, interplaying over polyphonic percussion, with an international flair.
There are nods to jazz royalty proliferated throughout the album. "Art Tatum" and "Miles Away" are lovely odes to the great innovators. "Art Tatum" is a rollicking and rhythmic tune, which plays up the swing of the guitar and is very danceable. One could see Art playing a stripped-down version of this song early in his career, deep within the smoke-filled clubs and sweaty dance floors. Whereas "Miles Away" is a much different beast. It channels the dark prince’s mood with rolling thunder and ethereal vibes, then crashes into a driving beat that does not relent until the song slowly fades away into the recesses of your mind. You also feel the fingerprints of John Zorn on tracks like "Mumbo Jumbo Hoodoo." The crackling recitation of "The Congo" by Vachel Lindsay is transposed over feedback and tribal drums, which would not be out of place within the great Avant Garde master’s oeuvre.
Despite the album paying tribute to the past and to jazz giants, this is no simple work of pastiche by a talented amateur. This is a magnificent piece of art, created by an unsung guitar hero working humbly, and with great care and enthusiasm with his instrument and his craft. I could sit here and say things like, "this is for fans of Steve Tibbetts," or "If you enjoy the work John Abercrombie, this is for you." However, this would be selling the album short.
As I stated at the beginning of this review, electricity is the key to our very survival; and I believe that Mr. Fox understands this in a way that most of us cannot begin to comprehend. For, in the end, the key ingredient within music, of any style, is electricity. I truly believe that Voltage Unit – Send, conveys the essence of what it means to be a lover of music and a connoisseur of variety. Please, do yourself a favor. Turn out the lights, grab this CD, put on some good headphones, and send yourself onto another plane with Voltage Unit.