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As a followup to fiercely uncompromising power trio project, Slaughterhouse 3, bassist extraordinaire Gary Willis delivers a potent punch with Actual Fiction. Joining the world-class electric bassist on this ambitious avant-groove outing is Willis’s longtime bandmate in Tribal Tech, drummer Kirk Covington, along with drummer David Gomez.
On frantic romps like the drum ‘n’ bass flavored “Cartoon Fetish” and ultra-funky throwdowns like “Smells Like A Party,” “If Only It Could Talk” and “PodCast,” Willis blends remarkable chops along with an innate ability to groove hard on the low end. His more lyrical side comes across on the beautiful ballad “Say Never,” which showcases his melodically singing style on the fretless electric bass, while the chopsbusting “Eye Candy” stands as his answer to Jaco Pastorius’s anthemic “Teen Town.” The sound collage “Take Me To Your Leader” and the dramatic closer “Based On A True Story” both represent a walk on the more experimental side while “Mean Streak,” powered by Gomez’s aggressive, polyrhythmic attack, is hard-hitting fusion at its most virtuosic. And on “Tio Loco,” Willis reunites with his longtime rhythm tandem partner Covington as they recreate the loose-tight hookup that fueled a dozen Tribal Tech recordings since the 1980s.
Now based in Spain, Willis remains one of the premier electric bassists on the international scene. His playing, composing and overall concept on Actual Fiction should elevate him to a new level of appreciation among bass connoisseurs.
– Bill Milkowski