When I was first presented with the opportunity to review On, the debut album from the band Jane Getter Premonition, I did not fully read through the PR materials. It is common practice for reviewers not to until after they have listened, in order to base opinions strictly on the music and not create preconceived impediments. So I’m reading that band name, thinking, “Ugh, what a terrible name for a band. What the heck is a ‘Jane-getter’ anyway?” It turns out a Jane Getter is a person named Jane Getter, and she’s a pretty great guitar player. D’oh.
(I like the band name much better now that I know what it means, by the way.)
So how’s the music? Impressive, difficult, often very prog-rock as advertised, but that’s not a bad thing. The overall feel of On is heavy jazz. Think of an intersection between Larks Tongue In Aspic King Crimson and Power and the Glory Gentle Giant, with the weight leaning more toward the instrumentation than the singing. On the average track, you won’t hear a human voice until well into a minute.
Getter’s backing band is top-notch. Adam Holzman is on the keyboards, Chad Wackerman plays percussion, and Bryan Beller holds down bass. Theo Travis guests with woodwinds & flute, and Testament shredder Alex Skolnick contributes as well. One of the best moments on the album is the track “Train Man” featuring one of rock’s best vocalists, Living Colour’s Corey Glover. Glover sings rather low and calmly at the outset, with distortion over the vocals that made this listener unsure of exactly who it was. But by the time we have reached the mid-section, he is brought fully into his own with a full roar. It works perfectly, and the surrounding track recalls Living Colour’s hard rock-with-jazz-chops ethos very well.
On is not what I would call a “populist prog” album, in that there are few tracks that would fit on a classic rock radio station, if such a thing exists anymore. This one is deadly serious, but it is also a treat to hear Getter and company really go for it. Recommended for those in the know, and for those that take the time to read before they jump in.