Andres Roots Roundabout – Three!
Roots Art Records RAR 1304.
11 songs – 36 minutes.
Based in Tartu, Estonia, not far from the Russian border, Andres Roots Roundabout are a three-piece band – two guitars and drums – with plenty of Old World experience.
Even though his name might not be a household word in America, slide guitarist Andres Roots founded another Estonian band, Bullfrog Brown, whose solid records and stage performance earned gigs and fans across Europe in the 2000s. He’s shared the stage with Honeyboy Edwards and working in collaboration with a host of European talent, including British reed-bender Steve Lury and guitarist Dave Arcari.
This CD is the third release from his new ensemble, but the first full-length all-instrumental disc from the group, which includes Martin Eessalu on second guitar and Raul Terep on skins. As Roots points out in the liner notes, the lineup is “difficult to dissect in traditional term, for the drums are as much a lead instrument as either of the guitars. What ought to be ‘rhythm guitar’ incorporates bass and lead lines and vice versa.”
All of the material here is original. The disc kicks off with a brief, discordant on “Greengrass Stomp,” but the song quickly evolves into a driving, trance-inducing boogie with Eessalu taking the lead. The tone for “Room Service” is light and airy, variations of a simple bluesy theme with drum accents.
After strong lead-in on drums, Roots takes command for “Link To Elmore,” which features some nice octave jumps on the fret board. The pace quickens for “High Noon,” with both guitars highlighted throughout over a drum workout on toms. Eessalu’s back in command for “Orient Express,” as the sound modulates with an Eastern feel. The song unites two themes previously expressed during Roots’ Bullfrog years.
The band gets funky on “Moby Dick” with Terep taking off on a brief drum solo mid-tune before the pace quickens before returning to the root. “Saucer Full Of Cream,” another Bullfrog original, follows before “Three Sticks,” a rapidly paced number on which Eessalu is in command and Roots plays rhythm by using a drumstick like he would if playing a diddley bow. “Wagon Swing” reworks another Bullfrom theme before the catchy, straight-ahead blues “Miss Carmen James” and airy “Onion Boy” conclude the set.
Always interesting, never boring. If you like instrumental guitar works, you’ll like this one.