This 1982 recording by the Pat Metheny Group represented a crossroads for the guitarist, a creative expansion from his original concept in terms of acoustic and electric instrumentation, folksy roots material and modern jazz influences, American and third world sources. Having thus marked out the territory for a decade's worth of experimentation and growth, the Metheny Group cemented its standing on the cutting edge of contemporary jazz with Offramp
. Lyle Mays' harmonica-like synth theme, Metheny's soaring, vocalised synth-guitar lead, some rich orchestral touches and an easy-going blend of backbeat and chord changes, made "Are You Going With Me" one of Metheny's most enduring arrangements. Still, for every gentle, alluring set piece, such as the tango-like "Au Lait" or the rural vistas of "James", there was a visceral, emotive free-for-all like the title track. Here, Metheny unleashed wild, wailing synth guitar elisions over a loose, abstract pulse-anticipating the energy of the guitarist's collaboration with free jazz guru Ornette Coleman some four years hence on Song X
. --Chip Stern
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