Amazingly, a full decade has passed since the Police embarked on its first full tour after dissolving another full decade before that. Since then, vocalist and frontman Sting has maintained ample visibility through myriad projects. But what of guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland? Happily, two very different new recordings inform us all is well in the rest of the Police ranks.
“Gizmodrome” is both the album and band name of a new project featuring Copeland. It’s billed as a sort of all-star prog rock pile-up featuring King Crimson/Talking Heads/David Bowie alum (and Northern Kentucky native) Adrian Belew on guitar, former Level 42 frontman Mark King on bass, and Vittorio Cosma of Italian prog troupe Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) on keyboards. But when the rapid-fire drum snap kicking off the album-opening “Zombies in the Mall” triggers an alertly funky guitar groove and a chorus of synthesized brass, you tend to assume Copeland is the skipper.
Much of “Gizmodrome” is full-blown power pop, the kind Belew has been a pro at for decades. The hooks are huge, the solos are commanding but modest in length and frequency, and the lyrics are irreverently amusing if not purposely opaque.
The joy, though, comes from the car crash of vibrant sounds. Case in point: Copeland’s spoken, noir-like vocals that float over a pure pop chorus (sung by Belew and King) on “Sweet Angels (Rule the World).” The tune then diverts into thunderous shards, a buzz-saw Belew solo and a calming piano coda from Cosma — all in less than three minutes.
Similarly efficient is the closing instrumental “Stark Naked,” with its churchy keyboard orchestration, deliciously cranky guitar jaunts and percussive chatter that makes this bit of proggish fancy sound imminently danceable. Such is the blend that makes “Gizmodrome” a smart and vigorous pop diversion.
Summers celebrates the fall by reissuing his newest album, “Triboluminescence” on vinyl. In essence, this is simply a second launch for the work, which surfaced in the spring with little fanfare and no domestic release. The vinyl edition also doubles the length of the CD version. That’s quite a bonus as the original “Triboluminescence” was already a gem.
An instrumental work with Summers playing nearly everything, “Triboluminescence” offers tunes that work off of ambient sketches with colors of prog, world music and even a hint of the atmospherics that accented his late-’80s albums for the Private Music label. All that surfaces before Summers’ guitar leads — some jagged and winding (as on “If Anything”), others lighter and almost swing-savvy (“Shadyland”) crash the party. The resulting mix reveals Summers playing with complete contentment light-years away from Police duty.