Wherever You Are
When one thinks of a successful supergroup—from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young all the way to Fantômas or Velvet Revolver—the winning ingredient is generally the band’s ability to surrender their egos and just focus on the music. With progressive maestros Anywhere and their self-titled debut, not only are you treated to the good kind of supergroup, but the best of all: a gestalt expression that often surpasses its various band members’ previous work.
Composed of mastermind guitarist Christian Eric Beaulieu of the prog outfit Triclops! (as well as Liquid Indian), vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta, former Sleepy Sun vocalist Rachel Fannan, and bassist legend Mike Watt of Minutemen, fIREHOSE and just being Mike Watt, Anywhere’s output is a boiling brew of Spanish flamenco, New World folk and Hindustani rāga music. If that already sounds too heady to work, you’d be surprised: It’s a seamless, harrowing blend of often wordless mood music.
Swinging off the vine with opener “Pyramid Mirrors,” we’re treated to galloping conquistador guitars and tribal beats only the neighborhood shaman could best appreciate. A triumphant, legato metal line is floated over top to prove that with this album, you can indeed be Anywhere. The song closes with a quickened hand-drumming tête à tête with Mike Watt’s bending sticky bass, sounding like a party at Montezuma’s house.
The Bedouin Moody Blues of “Rosa Rugosa” plays like another decadent night at the Star Wars opium den, while the aquatic channeling session of “Khamsin” has Bixler-Zavala delivering a memorable falsetto amid a calliope of drumming, groovy porn bass and scimitar-sharp guitar strums. The blended weirdness of it all is every bit as loony and skillful as the acid rock of a Zappa or King Crimson.
The trajectory of Anywhere is up, up, up, until finally climaxing with its brilliant namesake cut, “Anywhere,” as well as the truth in advertising of “Shaman Mantra.” The former is just top-shelf songwriting. With Bixler Zavala recalling Dio on a lantern-lit sojourn and Beaulieu summoning a stampede of horse clops and lute-like strings, we’ve no choice but to pray these men stay together for a long time. Whether its North African, Meso-American or Old English, Anywhere wriggles like a Sahara mirage—and satisfies like a heavily curried feast for the weary world traveler.