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The best kept secret in music



Article :: Crying Guitars (and Other Instrumental Musings)

When I was in college, I had a roommate who complained about the music that I listened to. At the time, Jeff Beck's "Blow By Blow" was in heavy rotation on my stereo (and if you have never listened to "Blow By Blow", you can ignore anything else I ever say, but you must listen to this album at least once in your life). I thought it was funny at the time when he referred to my music as "crying guitars". Since I have continued to listen to instrumentals -from Stanley Clark, Al Dimeola, Paco DeLucia, John McLaughlin, (the list goes on and on and now includes Liquifyed) - I have come to realize that what my roommate referred to as crying guitars was actually fairly accurate. I also came to realize that "instrumental bands" are as expressive, if not more so, than bands with a vocal lead.

Instrumentals are as old and varied as any music. Spanning the centuries and generations from classical orchestral, jazz, electronica, and film soundtracks, instrumentals have always been an integral part of our culture. Take film soundtracks, for example, when, during the silent film period of the early 1900's, movies were accompanied by music played by live orchestras. When "talkies" came along, instrumentals continued to play an important role in establishing the emotional tenor of the film. This continues to be true to this day, in large part because filmmakers understand that music evokes emotional responses.

Whereas bands of any genre with a vocalist can rely on the lyrics to tell a story and evoke emotions, instrumental musicians vie for their audience's attention with one hand tied behind their back. They cannot rely, in whole or in part, on vocals to reach listeners. Instead, they ask their instruments to serve as their voices and to tell their story. Liquifyed ( ), an instrumental band from New Jersey, that has been playing at clubs around the east coast not only exemplifies the best of what instrumental bands do, but also adds some diverse elements to the mix.

Liquifyed consists of five members playing guitar, bass, sax, drums, congas and percussion. Together they intelligently blend elements of funk, rock, and Latin genres to showcase a varied and very enjoyable array of music. Having seen Liquifyed perform recently and having listened to their self-titled cd, the smooth interplay between the band members is readily apparent and shows the strong dynamic of the band and its music. For example, Chris Faison takes the lead with his plaintive sounding and funk-inspired sax playing. Chris is then joined and surpassed by the rock-influenced guitar sounds of Brian Dickerson, who plays some smooth and inspired guitar. While Chris and Brian are "talking" to each other, the rhythm section, with strong and creative playing by Mike Barsky, who demonstrates his Latin-influenced training on a variety of instruments, including congas and other assorted percussion, Reggie Gamble on drums and Mark Shin on Bass, more than hold their own. This rhythm section provides a great counterpoint to the lead established by Chris and Brian.

Liquifyed understands that without lyrics they must find a way to tell a story and connect with their audience like any vocalist-lead band. Liquifyed not only succeeds in this endeavor, but in the process creates a sound that draws you in and does not let you out. Liquifyed sets a pace with their music that has you understanding exactly what they are about and where they are going and takes you along for the ride.

If you enjoy listening to musicians that are passionate about their craft and eager to share their passion and creativity with you, listen to "Charlie B's" from Liquifyed's cd, which you can download here, and go to their web site to learn more about the band and here some more music.

Article Copyright © 2002 Steve Nathan, licensed for use by Steve Nathan contact

Sounds Copyright: Liquifyed - "Charlie B's" from the CD "Liquifyed" © 2000 Liquifyed, licensed for use on contact Photos Copyright: Mike Barsky © 2002, licensed for use on contact Flash Design Copyright © 2002 Matt Kieffer/ TelXtra Interactive.
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- Steve Nathan


I have yet to see Liquifyed perform live, so I have no opinion on their improvisational gifts in the live setting. However, I can tell you that, judging from this CD, they are an incredibly tight, sleek, polished disco-jazz outfit looking to boogie you down with funky instrumental grooves.

Liquifyed lays down chunky guitar rhythms and slinky saxophone over drummer Ed Gross's rock-solid foundation. Disco, to work, needs smooth. Ed has smooth. I might go so far as to say smoove even. He's totally smoove, and that's a good thing here. Laying the foundation right along with him is bassist Mark Fu Shin, solid and toneful, and percussionist Mike Barsky. While, most often, guitarist Brian Dickerson is laying down the classic chink-a-chink chops the disco fever demands, he steps out nicely on a few occasions with smooth (that word again) schooled leadwork and just the right amount of fuzz. Chris Faison's sax dominates the recording, handling the melody work and really finishing out the sound of the band.

The first cut, Get Up!, appropriately gets up and grabs your attention, asks for spare change, then invites you across the street to a cocktail lounge. It's a nice lounge, and the people are dancing. It's a good thing, because you do stay in the same lounge for pretty much the whole CD. Aside from Brian Dickerson's guitar solo in the third track, Fumpin, little on the recording deviates from a safe, middle-road intensity. Certain saxophone sections of Charlie B's even hover dangerously close to the bland, threatening our entire lounge with a round of poorly-made Harvey Wallbangers, but the nice percussion work from Mike Barsky lofts the tune back into safer ground and more suitable refreshment.

For a demo, this is an excellent recording, and highlights Liquifyed's high-energy disco-jazz very well. The musicianship is excellent, the arrangements sharp and tight. If there is more depth and variety to Liquifyed's sound, perhaps a full-length recording would demonstrate that. This CD, while technically sound and musically precise, lacks dynamic variety. The band has one speed. Perhaps they extend their arrangements live and really cut loose -- I can't tell from this CD. So I say again: I need to see these guys live and this disc makes me want to do so.

- Stephan Low


Liquifyed the self released CD has been played on WDHA in NJ, WFNK on the Net as well as many college radio stations.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Liquifyed is a grove based funk band working hard to keep people dancing. Our influences range from Galactic, Karl Denson, Groove Collective, Stevie Wonder and many others.
Having many influences is what creates our great sound and what sets us apart from the crowd.