- Bryon Harris
The Maximum Chill – ‘Long Distance Friction’
Review by By Matt Wong & Staff
Founded by self-taught guitarist and composer Brandon Vasko in 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, The Maximum Chill is an amalgamation of folk, rock, jazz, blues, and classical music that yields a unique style of 'maximalist avant-garde rock.' The Maximum Chill consists of guitar, bass, electric clarinet, baritone saxophone, percussion and drums. Living by the mantra of "anything is music and anything can happen," the band can be heard soloing, improvising, burping, screaming, and generally adding unconventional, and even bizarre, elements to their performance to evoke audience reaction - fans are invited to express their inner freakdom. Keeping in line with traditions started by Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix, and many more, the band draws their musical and performance style from musicians such as The Mothers of Invention, DEVO, Grateful Dead, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, and from composers such as Antonin Dvorak, Igor Stravinsky,and Edgard Varese. The title track off their album Long Distance Friction is a great way to get acquainted with The Mazimum Chill.
“Long Distance Friction” begins with the entire band riffing! The guitar, horns, bass, and drums lay down a hodge podge of blues licks, scale runs, and rhythmic ideas that creates excitement and anticipation in the listener. Coming out of the blast, Brandon Vasko on guitar, Noah Century on electric clarinet, and Matt Souaid on baritone sax begin playing a grooving line in unison, supported by stop time hits by Everest Johnson on bass and Luke Maloney on drums.
Soon after, Johnson and Maloney begin playing the groove, while Daniella Carbert on trumpet, and Mathieu Lahaie on trombone contribute a unison counter-line. There is never a dull moment. This band keeps your ears locked in. Vasko begins blowing over a blues form, showing off a breadth of blues vocabulary, while the horns sneak in, and out with background lines. After two choruses of soloing, Vasko switches the focus from his burning guitar playing to his commanding and captivating vocals.
In support of the vocals, the horns switch from playing in unison with the melody, to playing lines and pads against it to create a variety of colors and textures for the discerning ear. Following the melody are blazing solos by Century and Souaid, in which they also push the envelope, and solo together to demonstrate their acute listening abilities and flex their chops! The vocals return after the solos, with the band eventually taking the listener to another dimension with their creative choices. After an insane, and wild run that leaves Vasko panting into the microphone, the band ends with a pulled back, yet grand re-statement of the melody.
The lyrics in “Long Distance Friction” are about the twisted anxieties and sexual tension that comes with long distance relationships. In the midst of the deep musical information presented in the arrangement, Vasko keeps the lyrics simple, and sings about how “This feelin’ keeps on growing deep within me day by day” until “I just can’t take it no more!” In a subsequent chorus, he sings about how “I hunger for your body, but you are so far away.”
“Long Distance Friction” by The Maximum chill is a piece of music that demonstrates a bold creativity and an advanced understanding of music that isn't paint by number. From the melody, to the intricate solos, and to the background lines, this band exhibits a deep knowledge of music that allows them to take their training, and explore the boundaries of their artistry. This is a song for serious music lovers who enjoy listening to musicians tap into their musicianship to express themselves authentically. The imagination, artistry, and creativity you hear in "Long Distance Friction" goes the full distance, crossing over the lines, and the ride is ever-engaging.
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