There should be a warning label attached to this recording, for the music and energy level is so high that it will blow one's mind! This is fusion music the way it used to be - and how it should ALWAYS be. Scott Henderson and Gary Willis create an exciting, and almost disturbing, canvas of sound. The tunes are basically long jams, where everybody gets his two cents in. The best way to describe this music in words would be to take the sounds of the Miles Davis electric bands, mix in some Herbie Hancock and Weather Report, and have Jimi Hendrix and Allan Holdsworth added on top. The album kicks off in a Weather Report-ish vein on "Sheik Of Encino", then follows with some very Miles-like sounds on "Party At Kinsey's". The highlight of the album has got to be "Jalapeno", a great fusion song featuring Willis' incredible bass work, and Henderson's searing guitar. Henderson doesn't have a weak moment at all throughout this recording. On the title tune he just reeks havoc over the unrelenting groove of the rhythm section. On the final tune Scott just unleashes everything he has on this wild guitar jam! Willis has his moments, also. On "Slick" he puts on a monster performance, and Scott Kinsey also shines on keyboards on this song. "You May Remember Me" is dedicated to the late Phil Hartman, who did the voice of Troy McClure on the "Simpsons", among other things. It is a bit of an odd ballad, but mesmerizing nonetheless. There are a couple of odd moments. "Clinic Troll" is a very weird song, and "Somewhat Later" has a bit of Oriental flavoring to it, with Henderson on acoustic guitar. But these are minor flaws. And at the very end of the last song, there are a few seconds of silence before a clip of a live performance busts out, with Tribal Tech showing a bit of their humorous side. This recording is an electric guitarists wet dream. If you like your fusion loud and raw, then you'll definitely enjoy Thick.
No small part of their ability to maintain a fresh sound in a genre that's too often stale is their ability to maintain a level of perspective about the whole thing. They're not afraid to have fun with the music, and if anything killed the first wave of fusion it was the tendency for artists to take it all just a bit too seriously. The fusion in question, after all, was of jazz, arguably a very serious form of music, and rock, unquestionably a form of pop entertainment. Good fusion, then, should take some of the serious edge off the jazz elements and provide a bit of popular entertainment.
Tribal Tech does just that. The members have all the chops they need to play as much "serious" jazz as they want, but they also have a spirit that inspires them to get noisy and nasty and flat out entertaining. That spirit shows up all over this nine track adventure, and the result may well be the fusion album of the year.