Exvitae were a flash in the plan as far as fusion groups go, creating their only album in 1978 featuring lots of sax, guitar and keyboards. Mandarine consists of four pieces of instrumental music that contain a pleasant jazzy vibe, yet provide lots of rhythmic changes and evolving thematic structures that occasionally keep this from the usual lineup of vamp and solos that albums like this tend towards. The rhythmic base is supported by able jazz drumming, a busy, riffing style that draws similarities to people like Billy Cobham and Furio Chirico. Occasionally, the music tends to freer realms, such as in "Saxophone" where saxophone and cacophony meet explosively a la John Coltrane's later years. The latter two pieces develop a more understated, relaxed jazziness, with "Gavarnie" featuring some excellent bass and the title track incorporating some flute and strings. Overall this is a very nice jazzy rock album that is likely to appeal to certain fans of Canterbury, fusion and good saxophone playing.
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