Exivious is a band that I’ve only recently heard about with the release of what is their sophomore effort, Liminal. Their style is best described as progressive jazz fusion, a genre pairing which makes perfect sense. Given that these are two ideas which have a lot in common (primarily their highly experimental and sometimes improvisational nature), it is to be expected that they would go together like chocolate and pretzels. It’s a stylistic fusion that the band is capable of making work significantly well.
As stated earlier, Exivious is a blend of progressive rock and jazz fusion elements. The broadest frame of reference for their more progressive elements would be in the vein of bands such as Animals As Leaders, TesseracT, and Chimp Spanner, with a little dash of Evan Brewer’s solo material thrown in. The music chooses to focus primarily on a very ethereal quality, especially in the production work on the guitars. The clean guitar is primarily in the background providing the melodic framework for the lead guitars to do their work, often in the form of improvising solos and such. The ambience does tend to take center stage in a few songs, especially in the middle segment of the opening track “Entrust”, and most notably in “Movement”, which sounds like it was built out of the various programmed interludes you find on a Periphery album.
While the prog flavor is very noticeable, Exivious’s sensibilities are very much also rooted in jazz fusion. Song structures tend to not have much of a clear outline, as significant portions of every song are dedicated to free form jams and improvisation with a vague semblance of structure. This may be seen as a bad thing for those who like organization, but it works perfectly for this band’s own brand of music, as the guitar, bass, and even drums are allowed to wander into their own musical territories. “Triguna” exemplifies the more jazzy nature of Liminal, coming very close to what sounds like a prog-focused updating of the classic Miles Davis album Bitches Brew, even including some of the rhythmic layering expected of bands like TesseracT.
Exivious spends ample time improvising on this album, especially when it comes to the drum work which is both intricate and sporadic at the same time. “One’s Glow”, “Open”, and “Immanent” provide the best examples of this, giving them the necessary rhythmic support while also doing whatever comes to mind in terms of fills. However, everyone does get their chance to shine throughout, with the second-to-last track “Open” serving as the song where the band as a whole gets to shine on equal footing with each other.
Not every track can be said to possess the same overall quality. The weakest tracks on the album are “Alpha Form” and “Movement”, the two tracks which exist as the slower songs more focused on pure ambience than any kind of interesting musicianship. While not awful, they tend to feel out of place on an album whose best songs are all about musically showing off. Despite this minor problem, the new Exivious record is a very enjoyable album. It is something that you are capable of listening to multiple times, getting lost in its soundscapes and also constantly picking up on things that you might not have noticed on a first listen.
The album (along with other band-related merch) can be found here: http://www.exivious.net/index.php?sub=store . If you like what you hear, definitely buy the album and support the artist.
Written by: Robert Barrueco – November 15th, 2013