Methodically tested, legend approved
There is no doubt that “Riders on the Storm” and “Light My Fire” by The Doors will remain cult classics for years to come. They are critical masterpieces of rock ‘n’ roll music which helped shape the genre itself. As a songwriter for these songs, former Doors guitarist Robby Krieger has since performed a solo act with the intent to unite old and new sounds. Combining jazz with a multitude of other styles, Krieger relives his musical career and significant talent in the form of his new music.
The Ritual Begins At Sundown is Krieger’s first solo album in ten years, with faint notes of psychedelic rock and blues which attempt to mask the rhythmic jazz fusion which this album is defined as. Each note is meticulously played and layered on to synchronize with the rest of the track.
Krieger’s instrumental album was influenced by many others while being made. Many of the tracks include former band members of legendary musician Frank Zappa who were crucial in the creation of this album. As Krieger describes in an earlier Facebook post, “We took the songs on the road, and played them live night after night in clubs, working out all the kinks and the got better and better.”
The album opener, “What Was That?” is people’s first taste of melodic jazz interwoven with Krieger’s soloing, blending with minimal effort. As his first track in a decade, this song fills that lonesome gap which lacked the embedded musical talent of Krieger and his guitar. The second song, “Slide Home,” is a suave five-minute track meant for a simpler time. Krieger’s muffled guitar riffs overshadow the faint tune of the rest of the band. This song is all about the guitar slide, with smooth transitions and a beautiful outro.
“The Drift” is funky and fantastic, with saxophone riffs meant for tiptoeing through the night. Suspenseful yet pleasing, this track’s cascading instrumental riffs bounce off of one another, as if in conversation. In similar style and taste, “Hot Head” provides the same melodious tunes with a bit more rhythm. The interaction of the brass instruments and Krieger’s guitar is next-level jazz fusion.
Zappa’s legendary producer, Arthur Barrow, lent his talent to this album in the form of an old classic. With a handful of other Zappa teammates like Jock Ellis (Trombone), Sal Marquez (Trumpet) and Tommy Mars (Keys), Krieger fuses his soloist mastery with a Frank Zappa classic, “Chunga’s Revenge.” As it is difficult to place one’s own musical style on the talent of another legend, Krieger and the band deserve significant kudos on this brilliantly executed rendition.
To revamp old classics, Krieger also chose to include a new version of “Yes, The River Knows,” from his former days as The Doors guitarist and songwriter for this track. After the passing away of Doors pianist Ray Manzarek in 2013, Krieger was inspired to re-light this song’s fire (bad Doors pun) as an ode to Manzarek’s stellar piano part in the original recordings. In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Krieger states, “we threw some other stuff to make it more modern, I guess. But the piano part is exactly the same as Ray played it.” The song is beautiful, and a great ode to Manzarek’s immense talent and impact on Krieger’s musical career.
To follow this, “The Hitch” turns the RPMs up a bit for this album. With more blues guitar riffs, Krieger brings back his superlative riffing in an effortless dirty-Jazz style. To clean up after is “Dr Noir,” a polished and refined track of lustful jazz brass and soulful rhythm. “Bianca’s Dream” brings more playfulness into the mix with dramatic lows and reaching highs. Krieger guitar loops around the track with minimal direction and seamless execution. As the closer, “Screen Junkie” is what one could expect from this instrumental album. With a laid-back vibe and a harmonious background, this track’s groovy intentions reaffirm people’s definition of jazz with the distinct stamp of Robby Krieger.
The Ritual Begins At Sundown is infused with significant experimentation. Tweaked to perfection, Krieger and his ensemble have manifested a piece of pure enjoyment for his plethora of listeners which longed for his sound the past ten years.