Puzzlebox by Clint Bahr

Release date: March 31, 2022
Label: MoonJune Records

Hard to believe, but it’s been nearly 20 years since Clint Bahr released his 2003 release, TriPod. They were one of the earliest releases from MoonJune Records after Clint’s band was discovered at New York’s Punk club, CBGB’s in 1998. TriPod was a band that crossed over between punk, RIO, and the Belew-era of Crimson. Now in 2022, Bahr has a new project called Puzzlebox.

Puzzlebox is the latest release from MoonJune. It is Clint’s next adventure combining improvisations and compositional arrangements to the core. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t second guess itself by pushing the envelope as far as Clint can go. And to be allowed to have Peter Banks, David Cross, Billy Ficca, Mike Hough, and David Jackson to name a few, they know they got Clint’s back to bring Puzzlebox to life.

‘As Tympani Melt in The Greek Heart’ is one of the most insane improvisations that Bahr gives his musicians, carte blanche. It goes from the Land of the Rising Sun, Crispell’s nod to Mike Garson’s playing during the Aladdin Sane sessions, and a massive duelling attack between Jackson and Griffin.

You can tell Bahr isn’t just going to make a “Prog-Rock” album, but an album that will give you nightmares for the rest your life. Combining Univers Zero, Stomu Yamashta, and Magma’s arrangements with Vander conducting the whole piece. But it’s ‘New Design’ that bursts through the flood gates.

Bahr transforms his Bass into a cat-and-mouse trap not knowing who will be captured as his vocals becomes this combination between Alice Cooper and Peter Hammill doing a jam session together. It has a steampunk approach that Hough and Schiller create at the turn of the 20th century. But with a middle-eastern mellotron midsection, Bahr is like a mad scientist creating a massive shitload of an experiment that is waiting to be unveiled.

‘Shelter’ sees Cling going for a doom turned dystopian fantasy with horrific details. Crossing over the sounds of Black Sabbath, Television, and BigElf’s music, Ficca gets down to business as he brings all these militant turned power housing sounds right into the front of your own living room.

Both ‘Bells & Braces’ and ‘Triangles, Circles, & Squares’ go for the Rock In Opposition movement, Wigwam’s Fairyport-era, Keith Tippett, and Crimson’s Red-era teaming up with the sax sections from Magma as Cross’ violin section, makes their instrument transform into vicious, hungry, snarling beasts with an appetite for human flesh!

But Bahr calls for the spirit of Peter Banks to give one last hurrah for a punky attitude by ‘Kicking the Wasps Nests’. Banks’ ghost-like solo brings attitude and calling to the gods while Schiller lays down brutal attacks on his tenor sax to make the journey home.

Now when you think of Puzzlebox, I ain’t talkin’ about Clive Barker’s box from the horror classic Hellraiser, but Bahr’s vision of Puzzlebox is an ear-listening challenge that is ready to burst the door down so hardcore, there’s no escape from it. MoonJune scores another home run with Bahr’s Puzzlebox coming to life.

And it is an enormous stick of dynamite that is ready to explode!

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