I’ve made no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Vancouver improv scene, and this album from Sick Boss will become one of my favourites for this year. With leadership and compositions from guitarist Cole Schmidt, this album leaps beyond the band’s first album released in 2017, the self-titled Sick Boss.
Right out of the gate in Businessless, their subsequent release, we are blasted into outer space with a more aggressive direction and further explorations of explosive guitar and effects. What’s not to love here! The second track When the Buzzards Leave the Bone sounds exactly as titled; it’s a fantastical craziness featuring a long exposé of improvisation between the brilliant cellist Peggy Lee and the equally brilliant Jesse Zubot on violin, expressing just how well these two players know each other. The relentlessness of Useless Genius sits heavy on the solid rhythmic creativity of another phenomenal artist, drummer Dan Gaucher, who drives much of the edge of the album, along with Schmidt’s gorgeous wildness on the guitar. Both of the longer tracks on the album, Doctor Dawn and the melodic CJ Blues, express the most cohesive display of how tightly this band channels their collective creative energy. All this craziness is glued together by bass and synth player James Meger and blown apart by the stratospheric melodies of JP Carter’s trumpet.
A condensed album at under 40 minutes, every track of Businessless is outstanding, but Useless Genius, featuring the holy hell of violin that is Jesse Zubot, is killer.