PAKT, a true super group of master musicians merging & colliding new music in the realms of progressive rock, electric jazz, experimental, ambient, psychedelic and beyond, is an experience as much as a musical project. An IMAX film for the ears, PAKT takes its listeners on an improvised sonic voyage with no preconceived destination, minimal pre-planning and little use for forms and conventions. Rare is the musician who can thrive in such a spontaneous environment but Percy Jones (fretless bass guitar), Alex Skolnick (guitar), Kenny Grohowski (drums) and Tim Motzer (guitar and electronics) are all up to the task. Armed with enough tastefully used effects to stock a small music store, Motzer and Skolnick create sounds so atmospheric and ethereal that one might not guess their source is a guitar. Meanwhile, Grohowski and Jones approach their instruments in textural manners that seamlessly intertwine with each other and the quartet as a whole. The music runs the gamut from highly sensitive to intense, with all four musicians’ listening skills so strong that their collective playing is as cohesive as it is unpredictable. Welsh bassist Jones (now a New York resident) is known for his tenure in the legendary jazz fusion group Brand X (whose classic lineup included drummer Phil Collins, yes that one) and extensive studio work (especially with Brian Eno). Skolnick is a diverse improviser whose jazz and world playing and instrumental associations (including bass virtuosos Stuart Hamm and Michael Manring) forms a Jeckyll & Hyde dynamic with his high profile as lead guitarist of the metal band Testament. Grohowski's many recent associations include John Zorn, a reincarnated version of Brand X and masked avant-metal outfit, Imperial Triumphant. Motzer has a long background in free improvisation, including the bands Bandit65 (with fellow guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel) and Orion Tango, plus many other recorded collaborations for his 1k Recordings label.
Before this album, all of PAKT’s releases had been taken from live performances. This studio session took place during the band’s East Coast tour in December, 2021. Primed from several successful shows in Upstate New York (including musician Daryll Hall’s thriving venue in Pawling, NY, Daryl’s House), the band took the day off in the Catskills Mountains, where they tracked live at NRS Studios. NRS is located in the home of musician/recording engineer Scott Petito, whose studio has hosted such luminaries John Scofield, Chick Corea and James Taylor. The PAKT musicians set up in a circle, all in the same room and performed, just as they would at a live concert. This began in the late morning and continued past dusk. By day’s end, they had accumulated a bunch of material—quite a nice document of where the band was musically back in 2021.
Tim Motzer, who produced this recording as well as providing artwork, says the following: “One of the things we all realized is that this band isn't going backward...it may be fueled by what we've done in the past, but really it’s a forward-evolving band composing in-the-moment, finding new language, and discovering our music as we go along. It's in that feeling that the title, ‘No Steps Left To Trace’, came to me because our music is a continuum, and more like a journey or an experience. We are, in a sense, tunneling or boring through the musical abstract toward and through to the ‘other side’.” Skolnick adds “From the moment we did our first performance together, it was clear that this project had a special chemistry that doesn’t happen all that often. The fact that we found this chemistry in our favorite Brooklyn venue, called Shape Shifter Lab, is fitting. It being the height of the 2020 Pandemic, that first show was streamed, with no audience present. Our first studio album ‘No Steps Left to Trace’, is a return to us just playing to each other, only this time, we have a number of live shows and touring under our belt, recorded in a high-quality studio. It’s a great document of PAKT in 2021.”
Live, of course, they have an audience that takes the ride with them. It is a real shared experience in that regard. Motzer curated five such journeys for the Live CD, one from Buffalo, three from NYC (Nublu), and one from Philadelphia. Adding the live album to the double release shows the growth and evolving chemistry in PAKT from the 2021 studio recording to the newer live recordings in 2023. It's a nice contrast with a lot of great interplay and listening happening from all the players. It also makes the album an excellent introduction to the band’s music for anyone new to it, as well as a fine addition to their discography.
PERCY JONES - bass
ALEX SKOLNICK - guitar
KENNY GROHOWSKI - drums
TIM MOTZER - guitars, electronics
“PAKT recalls the fearless attitude and daring approach that originally defined progressive music: where the magic of the moment always triumphed over preconception. Templates be damned ... this music blazes its own path! This is truly exquisite fare, serving as a reminder to aficionados of what initially drew them to this most creative, visionary of genres.”
WEST COAST TOUR DATES
Feb 01 - Seattle, WA (Funhouse)
Feb 02 - Portland, OR (Alberta Abbey)
Feb 03 - Eugene, OR (WOW Hall)
Feb 04 - Redding, CA (The Dip)
Feb 06 - TBA
Feb 08 - Mill Valley, CA (Sweetwater Music Hall)
Feb 09 - Fresno, CA (Fulton 55)
Feb 10 - Los Angeles, CA (Baked Potato, 2 shows)
Feb 11 - Los Angeles, CA (Baked Potato, 2 shows)
Feb 12 - Costa Mesa, CA (Wayfarer)
Feb 13 - Phoenix, AZ (The Rhythm Room)
To purchase PAKT “No Steps Left to Trace” (2CD, 2LP, 24bit Download):
Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 1-828-350-8158 (US), email@example.com