SLAMM magazine - Issue 116 September 8-21, 1999

Agent 22
(Thos Sounds)

Didn’t your mom tell you to never judge a CD by its cover? The album cover and music of Agent 22 make for a fascinating dichotomy. This trio, which resides in the eccentric, somnolent beach town of Encinitias, is comprised of veterans of the Jazz Studies program at SDSU. Along with the drums and dual guitars, the Stick-synth contributes to their innovative style. Their melodies draw upon a variety of forms, including fusion jazz, refined allusions to ska, and ingenious and singular classical arrangements.

100% instrumental, the esoteric Stick-synth of Agent 22 dribbles drops of bubbled lines, while the guitars glide upon circular, echoing tones; cymbals and toms sew together this patchwork of highly evolved music.

Some ballads swing high in the hammocks of balmy summer nostalgia, while others like "It’s Time" offer the peppered idealism found in ska choruses, encouraging the kind of effervescent dancing you won’t find in a mosh pit. Other tunes, like "Agent 22" and "3:32," recall the sounds that John McLaughin and Dennis Chambers pioneered on the Heart of Things album. "Brother Wind Shear," however, cooks up an aromatic recipe comparable to that of Bitches Brew, with a dash of Headhunters, too.

- Whitney Youngs