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Infinity Machine


℗ 1976 Atlantic Records ATL 50254

℗ 1976 ATCO Records SD 36 132

℗ 2006 barin.livejournal.com BR LLA 31639

Passport • 1976 • Infinity Machine

PASSPORT was at the height of their popularity in 1976, playing a blend of cosmopolitan fusion that owed little to the traditional Jazz-Rock style pioneered by MILES DAVIS or JOHN McLAUGHLIN. The music leaned more in an easy listening Prog-Jazz direction, with a silver lining of Space Rock and a healthy dose of boilerplate mid '70s Funk. It sounds like an awkward combination, but with this quartet of talent, led by the indefatigable saxophonist Klaus Doldinger, their music has stood the test of time surprisingly well.

The funkiness is front and center on the signature track here, the album opener "Ju-Ju-Man": one of those definitive 1970s dance hits, and likely familiar to even the most casual listener (although I doubt very many people recognized it at the time as coming from a German band). The brass fanfares, mock disco beat, and that crunchy clavinet sound, along with lively virtuoso solos on sax and synth, are almost guaranteed to make you twitch your sequined butt and tap your platform shoes.

But the song is something of a novelty, and doesn't really give a full account of the band's true range. Listen to the nervous, optimistic energy of "Morning Sun", or the romantic delicacy of "Blue Aurora", an all-too brief idyll before the unexpected electronic double-whammy of the two standout selections on the album: the title track and the aptly titled "Ostinato". The former is a balls-to-the-walls space jazz blowout with energy to spare; the latter is a lush, galloping synthesizer and sequencer-driven jam, ending in a spacey coda highlighting the world-class drumming of Curt Cress, who ranks up there with Bill Bruford at the top of the percussion pyramid.

The album ends with "Contemplation", an almost symphonic sounding chill-out with a name that speaks for itself.

Klaus Doldinger would continue to record as PASSPORT for decades to come, with a revolving door roster of backup musicians and in a variety of jazz-rock styles (including a vocalist at one point in the late '70s). But this album represented the end of a particularly fertile era for the band, marked by the last appearance of that striking Wandrey's Studio cover art. It's a strong album, still worth a listen after all these years; just don't judge them by "Ju-Ju-Man" alone. — Neumann.

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