Upbeat and intensely lyrical, guitarist Pat Metheny's exuberant new release extends his easily recognizable sound—a fusion of synthesized and overdubbed instruments—into a continuous, four-part composition. Sure, it's ambitious, but not much of a stretch for the ever-eclectic Metheny, who plays seamlessly through shifting jazz, rock and Middle Eastern motifs.
On The Way Up, bells and street noises give way to a lilting central melody that is set against high, bright tones and polyrhythmic textures, and that is then resounded in later sections through lively exchanges of trumpet, keyboards and (surprisingly) harmonica. Overall, the feeling is symphonic. Throughout are moody bits and elliptical themes as kinetic as a lava lamp, but these are just minor distractions in an intriguing, creative whole.