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ONOFFON/Your Mind (self-released NFN31922)

The California band ONOFFON is back with their second release “Your Mind”. The band has become one of my favorites for several reasons. First, they’re all great musicians and even their worst critic has to give them that. Second, they’re one of the most adventurous risk-takers out there.

As this disc shows, an ONOFFON release is a wondrous journey from the absurd to the absolutely exquisite. The band consists of Don Lake (guitar, vocals), Von Babasin (some mean bass, vocals), and Dave Goode (drums, vocals). Their sound is supplemented nicely once again by Glen Garrett, who brings his sax and flute to the mix, and some background vocals from Stacey Baltes and Carole Couture-Olivieri.

It’s hard to describe this band’s sound because nothing is off-limits to them and they cover a lot of ground. The best description would probably be to call it progressive jazz but even that doesn’t do it justice. They really have to be heard to be understood and you can’t say that about very many bands today. Let’s just say that they’re not only interesting, ground-breaking, and original, but they’re also visionaries. To put it another way, no one is doing what these guys are doing and what they’re doing is thoroughly enjoyable.

“Your Mind” contains 11 tracks. 3 of them are instrumentals and for my money the band’s greatest strengths are their individual instrumental talents. “Opus” is just an incredible piece that begins with some soft acoustic guitar and just slowly develops into an envelope of guitar sounds from Don Lake. “Shadowglass” is another masterpiece that uses guest musician Glen Garrett’s flute to incredible lengths while still managing to showcase the 3 full-time band members as well. “Ocean’s Cry” is the band’s funky sounding track and features some mean bass from Von Babasin. To close out the disc, the band uses the albums credits as the lyrics for the aptly titled “Credits”. This has to be one of the most creative moments I’ve heard in a long time and the weirdest thing is that it works. Like I said earlier, ONOFFON really has to be heard to be understood.

This disc is an early runner for the best of 1999 list--and take my word for it--no review is really going to do it justice.