Invisible Jet Takes Off!

Vermont singer-songwriter Aaron Flinn gets to ramble on about one of his favorite bands, the hard-to-describe rhythm-art-pop band Invisible Jet.

If you've ever been to the end of the runway at any given airport and watched airplanes taking off and landing, then you're aware of the overwhelming sonic reverberations that rip into the air as the planes scream their sound down and around you. The intensity of that experience is not unlike placing yourself near the front of the stage at any performance given by the Burlington, Vermont based band Invisible Jet.

If you're looking to hear hardcore, punk, funk, hippyrock, groove, rap, root music, blues, bluegrass, jazz or anything of the sort, you're going to be let down. If, however, you desire something more akin to the sounds that rang through 80,000 seat arenas during the mid-late eighties and early nineties, then you're in luck. And luckier still because you can catch them at slightly smaller venues, for the time being, like Boston's Mama Kin, New York City's Mercury Lounge or Burlington's own Metronome and Toast. The Invisible Jet experience, however, is stadium worthy.

Rather than compare Invisible Jet to a particular band, I would bring up the name Daniel Lanois. Lanois, over the last ten to fifteen years, has had a major hand in crafting the sound of many popular artists such as Emmy Lou Harris, Peter Gabriel, U2, Bob Dylan and the Neville Brothers to name but a few. Lanois has a distinctive production style that Invisible Jet immediately recalls.

The Jet, as we like to call them, attained their sound through the use of a historically traditional rock line-up: two guitars, bass and drums. The band's rhythm section is perhaps one of the fattest and most solid around. Tom James' bass playing is strong and melodic, utilizing a minimal amount of notes and thus providing a sturdy foundation for the harmonic progressions of the songs to be built upon. As a perfect counterpart to the spacious bass playing is percussionist Phil Brown. Phil is obviously a student of African polyrhythmic drumming, as he fills in every hole without stepping on any other instrument and allows the rhythm section alone to be a wall of sound. Brown is also one of the most enjoyable drummers to watch in a live setting (park yourself accordingly). Jesse Sargent writes and sings and plays beautiful lead guitar.

Over the years, the band has worked through a number of musicians in search of the fourth member, including local favorite David Kamm, currently playing in Construction Joe. Taxi (a.k.a. Ryan Ober) has stepped in on guitar and without question has become the fourth member of Invisible Jet. The textures and colors Ober brings through his use of guitar lines and ambient chords, often playing in counterpoint to vocal melodies, broadens the shoulders of the music and cause it to stand taller. Ober also sings, which allows for some amazing three-part harmonies.

Nearly five years ago James, Brown and Sargent began working together as a musical unit. For reasons such as travel and school they have taken breaks from time to time but have been more or less committed solely to perfecting Invisible Jet for the last two years. And Invisible Jet is a job they take seriously. The band rehearses endlessly: often perfecting material they have already played out and even more often working through ideas that will eventually be pounded into finished songs. For some, songwriting occurs quickly and in some sort of fit of divine intervention a song is born. But for Invisible Jet, the process is harder: at any given rehearsal a member may arrive with an idea (vocal melody, chord progression and bass line) and then the honing process begins: negotiations, compromises, jamming, and then reflection. It's a lot of work but this process works wonderfully for the Jet. The songs that they showcase live are fantastically arranged and usually pulled off flawlessly due to the great many times that the band has run the song prior to the public ever having the opportunity to hear it. The downside to this process, which they have fallen prey to from time to time, is never reaching the point where one is happy with what they are working on, thus ideas float for years and having too many completed songs is not a problem that arises. However, at the last three Jet shows I've seen, new songs had been added to the set list each time.

Off the stage Invisible Jet has been working with Chuck Eller in Charlotte recording what will be their first release. The eponymous ten-track disc will be available early in 1998 and will feature nine new songs and a re-recording of the local favorite "If This Is You", which can be found on the first Good Citizen compilation Soundtrack to the Zine Volume One.

In my estimation with this CD and their live show Invisible Jet will not be grounded for long, but rather cruising at 35,000 feet or better (with a tailwind even). Obviously, I like this band. I hope I've convinced you to check Invisible Jet for yourself. ~GC~

Aaron Flinn, a Charlotte native, and a magna cum laude graduate of the Berklee College of Music, is a multi-instrumentalist and prolific songsmith who performs with his band Salad Days as well as acoustically as... Aaron Flinn. His first CD release, Rattle, can be found at local stores and live shows. He also has a cool scar on top of his head earned live in the rock and roll trenches...