by Alissa Ordabai
– Senior Columnist —
Having started over 20 years ago playing knotty math Metal, ATP gradually grew into a phenomenally expansive band. These days the trio digs deeper and wider than anyone else on today’s rock scene. But it’s been a long journey — moving from inward-looking obsession with technique to connecting with the outside world in all its absurd glory. On the new album the band manages not only to show off its chops and erudition, but to build an entire universe. And it’s not an insular realm — it is open, constantly changing, and meticulously designed with its own soundscapes, its own atmosphere, and its own life.
Impeccable knowledge of genres from Jazz to Metal allow the band to cover vast ground. Opener “Distortions of Perception” shows this right off the bat: a well-nigh cacophony of Metal riffing, frantic drums, and aggressive high-tech guitar suddenly melts into levitating jazz fusion. But startling contrasts of genres and awe-inspiring virtuosity is just the method. Elaborate polyphony, complex time signatures, and high-tech chops serve a higher purpose — of taking you to a mysterious place where engrossing scenes unfold all around.
And the most vivid imagery on this record comes not from math Metal, but from Jazz Fusion which twin brothers Jasun Tipton (guitar) and Troy Tipton (bass) seem to have mastered to perfection. Standout “Synesthesia” is up there with the best work of jazz bass genius Jaco Pastorius — abstract and at the same time lucidly eloquent. Bass players Michael Manring and John Odner who guest on this track know how to give the bass a finely wrought voice and a spectral touch. But so does Troy Tipton who now knows his jazz as thoroughly as he knows his metal.
Another highlight “Nocturnal Haven – Instrumental Version” takes jazz and more — thrash, prog, and old-school rock — and uses each genre as a layer to build a unique reality. Here the band’s vision captivates you completely — a total immersion experience, in 3D and multi-viewpoint. Where on previous albums Jasun Tipton was often using his guitar for flashy demonstrations, here he shows that it can be anything and everything — a protean instrument for building an entire cosmos of your own.
It is hard to pick highlights as the entire album is a highlight — of the band’s career and of today’s metal scene. The newly found expansive approach takes their vision to a new level — making it transparent, well-defined and more approachable than before. And speaking of “approachable,” there is nothing easy about making complex inner realities accessible. Like any true art, it’s a hard one to master. But then again, stunning, world-class ideas draw crowds in — this is how niche acts go mainstream. And this could well happen to this band.
Genre: Progressive Metal, Jazz Fusion, Experimental
Jasun Tipton – guitar
Tory Tipton – bass
Mike Guy – drums
Jason Montero – Guitars
1. Distortions of Perception
2. Nocturnal Haven (featuring Tommy Rogers and Jeff Loomis)
4. Synesthesia (featuring Michael Manring and John Onder)
6. Nocturnal Haven – Instrumental Version
7. Subliminal Perception
Label: LifeForce Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 10/10