"Cortlandt" (Free Electric Sound / AudioImage; 2007 / 1996)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Sean Malone made a name for himself as the bassist for the seminal Cynic which set new benchmarks for the technical metal genre with “Focus.”  “Cortlandt” was recorded soon after the end of Cynic. “Cortlandt” is a collection of varied recordings that is a huge stylistic leap away from Cynic’s “Focus.”

On “Cortlandt” texture reigns supreme while composition is a close second. Malone uses fretless bass and the Chapman stick as the central pieces of his songs, but not the only parts. Guitar, keyboards, and drums complement Malone’s compositions.

Sean Malone is joined by drummer extraordinaire Sean Reinert with who he had worked with at that point for more than a decade. Anytime progressive rockers get involved with instrumental music fusion and jazz will make their presence felt, but “Cortlandt” features world music, heavy metal, fusion, and modern takes on classical musical forms.

To some extent “Cortlandt” could be viewed as the missing link between Cynic and Gordian Knot, but I think a listener that goes into “Cortlandt” with that thought in mind would be missing the point. “Cortlandt” is not about getting from “Focus” to the self-titled “Gordian Knot,” but  rather one musician’s first steps to finding a new voice and a new palette of sounds to work from.

“Cortlandt” was produced by Scott Burns and Sean Malone. The 2007 reissue was re-mastered by Bob Katz.

Sean Malone is joined by Sean Reinert (Cynic) on drums and Bob Bunin on guitar. Other guitarists making guest appearances include Geoff Caputo, Reeves Gabriel, Trey Gunn (Warr guitar), and Adam Levy. One song features a chorus, which includes one Mr. John Wesley who is making a name for himself as a touring guitarist with Porcupine Tree as well as a solo artist in his own right.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:47 -0400.