Information Superhighway are a group of talented musicians playing extended works that have jazz, rock, and prog romanticism with melodic ambient stretches that mesmerize. Composer/multi-instrumentalist Rob Clearfield, vocalist Leslie Beukelman, bassist Patrick Mulcahy, and drummer John Smilie’s band have been around since 2005. They may have become a side project now that John’s left and Rob and Patrick have joined District 97 to play with another Leslie. That doesn’t take anything away from this breathtakingly beautiful album however.
Leslie Beukelman has a beautifully interesting and unique voice ably demonstrated on opener “Almost Morning.” “The Real Things” follows, deceiving in its’ ability to move from a very ambient nature to almost wild abandon at the end. It sneaks up on you without notice. I enjoyed the gentle melody on “Soft and Not Knowing.” This is an undeniably gorgeous vocal from Leslie and might even give Heather Findlay a run for her money. At times I think about a less celtic version of Mostly Autumn when I listen to This Is Not the Ending.
This is completely different from District 97; much more ambient and romantic, while still maintaining an essence of jazz and esoteric. This is likely due to the different songwriter in Rob Clearfield, as he was a sideman for drummer Jonathan Schang’s compositions on the first D97 CD. Hopefully future D97 recordings will feature his works, as it is fine work indeed.
Reading their website info, it seems they are happy with a couple of their most recent songs like “Soft and Not Knowing” and closer “Your Voice – Part II.” I would agree that these are two of the best songs on this CD, and show the band’s ear for melody and beauty that could bring them far into the future if they are willing.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on July 23rd, 2012