Think of Greg Fox as an avant-garde Steve Gadd. Whereas Gadd specializes in bringing immaculate grooves with him wherever he goes, Fox — a thirty-something New York drummer renowned for his fierce yet supple attack— is the guy you call if you’re looking to infuse your band with a kind of ecstatic electricity. Drawing on influences from Lightning Bolt basher Brian Chippendale to free-jazz mystic Milford Graves, he’s brought that sensation to his work with arty black-metal band Liturgy, instrumental psych purveyors Ex Eye, shapeshifting experimental outfit Zs, and many more during the past decade-plus.
Meanwhile Fox has been channeling that same sense of release and uplift into his solo work. Lately, he’s been using Sensory Percussion — a setup that, in his words, “allows you to turn an acoustic drum kit into an extremely versatile MIDI controller” — to give himself a broader sound palette. His latest track, “From the Cessation of What,” which previews Fox’s upcoming album Contact, and helps rolls out a new Kickstarter campaign to fund a home studio in Brooklyn, finds him conjuring an entrancing array of sounds from his augmented kit: dense, earthy rolls; chiming, marimba-esque tones; and barrages of clicks on the rims of the drums.
But it’s in the track’s second half that Fox unleashes his full percussive powers. After a quick build, the piece segues into a kind of one-man prog-fusion breakdown, where he lays down a furiously funky beat underneath a field of warm, synth-like textures. Like the best of Fox’s past work, the passage is technically dazzling, suggesting Billy Cobham’s control filtered through Zach Hill’s frenzy, but also full of feeling and wonder. He’s the best kind of virtuoso, a player who realizes that skill is just one component of music-making, not a substitute for the part that moves you.
Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.