LIVE: PAKT @ Strand Theatre, Hudson Falls, 09/12/201

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PAKT delivered a one-and-a-half-hour set of improvised fusion at the intimate Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls Sunday night.

The quartet consists of Percy Jones – fretless bass, Alex Skolnick – guitar, Kenny Grohowski – drums and percussion, and Tim Motzer – guitar and electronics.

Improvised music is by its very nature ephemeral, of the moment. And mightily hard to describe. I was reminded of the famous quote: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

So maybe a water analogy will er, hold water.

PAKT’s music ebbs and flows, at times tranquil like a still lagoon, at others cascading like a raging torrent.

Jones, best known for being the co-founder and long-standing member of the Brit-fusion band Brand X, is an incredible anchor, his bass simmering throughout and occasionally coming to the boil with startling elasticity.

Grohowski brings the crash bang wallop with a ferocious determination but is also delicate and nuanced in the quieter passages, utilizing beaters and brushes.

Motzer coaxes a vast array of sounds from his guitars and gadgets, everything from a keening Pat Metheny-like synthaxe wail to glacial swathes of Frippertronics. 

Skolnick too provides multiple sonic textures, switching between lead and rhythm and working his pedals at a dizzying speed. His day job is as lead guitarist for the thrash metal band Testament, but in PAKT’s ocean genres melt and dissolve like icebergs. He really takes flight at the conclusion of the first 30-minute piece, surfing majestically over the waves of his bandmates with a stunning solo. Two other extended jams follow.

This is music that challenges both performer and audience. As Skolnick cheerfully notes “This is all brand new, you haven’t heard it before…and neither have we!” Motzer adds at the show’s end “Thank you for coming on this journey with us.”

A journey with four remarkable musicians well worth taking.

Photo Gallery by Rudy Lu

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