Irons’ previous work as a former drummer of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam does nothing to prepare the listener for Attention Dimension. An appropriate title because if you listen long enough and attentively enough, your mind will travel to another dimension.
The album starts off with “Jackie Groove,” a jazzy little number that features flute and soprano saxophone played by Irons’ partner-in-crime, Alain Johannes, who plays on most of the tracks, co-wrote a couple of songs and was involved in the mixing and engineering.
Then we move into an interesting percussion piece, “Suluhiana,” which means “make peace.” It is one of the few tracks with vocals, but that doesn’t mean it has lyrics except for when the title can be made out. Instead of singing, Johannes provides tribal chanting. Later in the piece, the vocals are reminiscent of qawwali vocalizing, which totally works with the song’s world music flavor.
“Hearing It Doubled” was my favorite track, but that might be because it’s as close to rock ‘n’ roll as anything on the album. It starts with some intense, fast drum work that you would hear in a drum line. Then you hear the blues, which I first thought was guitar, but looking at the liner notes it turns out it was either an electric mridangam or a sigfiddle. Then the piano kicks in for a little boogie-woogie.
Almost unrecognizable is a part of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” The distinctive four-note guitar has been transformed, sounding as if it’s underwater. The drums kick in strong, taking center stage and speeding up the tempo. Eddie Vedder sings the vocals and Les Claypool lays down some very nice bass. It won’t supplant the original, but an effort was made to make something different out of it.
Next, Irons delves into his 14-minute solo epic, “Underwater Circus Music,” which would have been a more apt album title if there hadn’t already been a band with that name. The piece is repetitive, self-indulgent and doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Every time it was on, I found myself drifting and focusing on something else, which could have been the song’s purpose. It would certainly be helpful in those contemplative and/or hallucinogenic moments when your trying to sort the universe out, but it’s too much and almost kills the album.
I liked “Dunes” with its Middle Eastern flair, and also “Come Running,” which is the most radio-friendly song on the album due to Irons’ lilting vocals and Johannes’ slide guitar. It makes you wish there were more tracks in this mode rather then the bloated “Underwater Circus Music,” but unfortunately, the next track is the 12-minute “Water Song.” This time he is joined by Flea and Stone Gossard, but even with that star power, it still suffers from the same problems that make “Underwater Circus Music” intolerable.
“Attention Dimension” is an eclectic percussive mix filled with mostly instrumental pieces that are so diverse in sound and style that I suggest you listen to a sample of every track before you purchase it. The album will be too schizophrenic for some, but those with wide ranging musical tastes, especially percussion work, might enjoy the audio expedition that Irons leads you on.