Stunning Electric Fusion Single and Album from ShwizZ
There are these two guys from Nyack, New York. They call themselves ShwizZ. Ryan Liatsis plays keyboards, electric guitar, synthesizers, and bass, and Andy Boxer plays drums. They’ve been in the game for some time, but they really upped the ante with a superb single titled “Hit the Deck” at the end of March and then Big Things, an entirely appropriate name for their album released in June, both on Color Red out of Denver.
On their Facebook page, it states: “If Frank Zappa, Umphrey’s McGee, James Brown, Lotus,The Grateful Dead, Genesis and Dream Theater had a lovechild… it would named ShwizZ (gently edited).” That is certainly a good starting place for understanding the music of this impressive duo.
“Hit the Deck”
“Hit the Deck” is NOT on the new album, so let’s look at that one first. These gentlemen play some of the best and most authentic ’70s-style fusion music anywhere. Period. The end. Let your ears confirm this. Boxer’s drumming is absolutely spot-on here and on every song on the album as well. Chris Duffy guests here with a pulsing bass line in perfect coordination with Boxer. And then there is multi-instrumentalist Liatsis, outstanding on electric piano and stunning on electric guitar. Jeff Beck, Return to Forever, Al diMeola, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, and others of the era paved the way for this new entry. Gorgeous.
The story goes that, “after catching word of Color Red by chatting with Freekbass at a festival in upstate New York, it seemed like a perfect fit to capture “Hit the Deck” with straight-to-tape recording methods and Eddie Roberts taking the wheel on production.” Roberts also did the tracking an mixing, and Doug Krebs did the mastering.
The ShwizZ boys offered this:
We’re all quite pleased with the outcome of the track. Recording directly to tape really captured the vibe we had set out to create. The whole process, from reaching out to CR to going to the studio, tracking and mixing, was completely flawless. Eddie was super easy to work with and provided the perfect amount of producing tips to keep us on track with what he needed but still be free to make our musical vision come to life. “Hit The Deck” came out amazingly. It was a very fitting song for the production style that Color Red has been doing. The use of recording to tape, old school mic’ing techniques and having to perform and nail the track live really helped get us a quality recording. Eddie was extremely professional and sat back and let us do our thing, while also providing his production expertise when necessary. The overall experience was a delight from start to finish, and the process was professional and rewarding.
For opening track “Splinter,” Liatsis also plays bass in addition to synths, guitar, and keyboards. By turns, this features some sweet guitars, deep, deep Return to Forever funk, and some bitchin’ guitar. And Boxer is with him every single step of the way.
More killer guitar opens “Khoi Khoi,” which then turns the deepest, darkest, nastiest electro-funk you can imagine. DAMN! The keyboards almost sound like vibes, and again there is that abrupt switch from lovely guitar to heavy metal, in the very best way possible.
You will recognize the beginning of “Your Call is Very Important to Us,” much to your dismay, before Boxer kicks it in groove with a light, bouncy tune, with some acoustic guitar. This is so well recorded and produced, layer on top of layer of beauty. Then Liatsis whips out the electric and shreds with abandon.
“Unnamed King” slows the pace down, briefly, this time featuring John Ferrara of Consider the Source on bass. It too ranges from lovely to heavy metal, all within the frame of five and a half minutes, kicking ass in the second half of the song, synths blazing atop throbbing bass and drums.
For “Changing Gears,” they brought in Luke Bemand of lespecial on bass. He weaves a beautiful bass line as Liatsis’ guitar dances on the groove laid down by bass and drums. This is more reminiscent of Larry Coryell’s style, although these are only references, as Liatsis is distinctly his own man. When live music returns to us, these men had better tour!
OK, this is just stupid. Liatsis squaring of with Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu on guitar, and Chris DeAngelis blowing up the bass on “The Shwizzard.” Synths swirl and the guitar battle is… ridiculous!
“Weather or Not” is more superb playing, Liatsis on both acoustic and electric guitars. More ridiculousness, some heavy stuff, some slide guitar, deep synths, light Latin groove, electric piano — the gift that keeps on giving. And Boxer is a beast.
“Big Things” alternates between insane Zappa-style story-telling and some great music featuring a real cast of characters: David Krumholz, voice-over, vocals, percussion; Natasha DiMarco, vocals; Dan and Alan Rappaport, vocals, percussion; and Zappa alum Ed Mann, vibes, mallets, orchestral percussion. And a straight-up Zappa guitar solo, which Liatsis crushes. Holy ShizZ!
[Ed. note: How have I missed these guys until now? And thanks to Color Red for bringing them to the fore. Mind completely blown.]
And speaking of hearing livestreams, Consider the Source just shared this about a livestream Thursday, July 30:
This time he’ll be teaming up w/ Ryan Liatsis of ShwizZ and Luke Bemand of lespecial for 100% improvisational jams in an effort to raise funds for a truly supportive home for original music. Tune in and donate if you can!
Stream the show on the Pacific Standard Tavern Facebook page!