“...a band unlike any other. This instrumental ensemble pushes the envelope and is refreshingly impossible to categorize. Rock, jazz and funk, along with a range of South Asian and Middle Eastern influences, slip between traces of surf, rockabilly and country in a great mix of cultures that twist and turn at the drop of a hat. The opening track, “Drop the Needle,” leaves a lasting impression and gives an indication of Pray for Brain's approach; slightly abstract, improvisational and experimental, yet clear and refined with a groove. Here is a jazz/rock composite that will eliminate any preconceived notion of fusion. ... This trio is full of endless possibilities. It's hard for a group to maintain consistency when they dabble in so many different styles, but Pray for Brain gladly accepts this challenge and succeeds. They tie together a number of influences while keeping the music entirely their own. None of the Above is a diverse and unpredictable journey worth experiencing.”
“...an electro-organic feast, enveloping a 3D outlook, spanning Middle Eastern oud-based rock, Indofunk, jazz fusion and hearty doses of improvisation. Here, exceptionally versatile guitarist Mustafa Stefan Dill integrates thrusting King Crimson chord voicings, understated melodies, shades of Americana, Mid-Eastern modalities and performs on the oud as well. ..In sum, if you're looking for a solidly produced jazz rock or progressive rock outing that deviates from the tried and true, then Pray For Brain fits the bill in a rather huge way.”
“Funk, world, jazz, fusion and rock are just some of the genres touched upon making for an interesting and dynamic listening experience. These eleven tracks boast plenty of chops, improvisation and a jam-like quality that will keep you guessing where the music will go next. Great bass work...Jam band, jazz fusion and psychedelic overtones abound as Dill's guitar work absolutely shines. ... Fans of fusion music will certainly find something to enjoy with None of the Above. Folks, this one's a keeper."”
“The band gets a sound that plays on Mideastern modes often, yet does it in a sometimes heavy, always smartly rocking way. These are originals that have metal, surf and avant fusion overtones, depending. ....Mustafa Stefan has his very own way with the guitar (and oud!) that is technically adept but very lucid and original in a Mideastern minor mode that has rock heft when he choses to crank a bit--and a bit of the hang-ten surf sound down pat when he brings that on. ... The tunes, the band as a totality and Mustafa's signature guitar style all give you something different, something extra. I must say that this one was a big, pleasing surprise. I don't know how far afield they gig, but if they happen to be in your town, check them out! The album, too! It's not the obvious and it is very good.”
“Each member of this group comes across as having a very distinct voice and the combining of the band does some surprising things....But don't confuse their technical prowess for soulless Satriani-like noodling because that's far from the case. Every song here has heart and rhythm. They're righteously unique.”
“Imagine funk if it were played by musicians with a prog/metal sensibility. Some will find that mental image irredeemably gruesome; other will be intrigued. ....[T]here’s a world-music undertone to these deliberate (but not plodding) instrumental numbers. In places the group’s tracks feel like the guitar solo passages on late-period Frank Zappa albums. The aptly-named “Sufisurf” hints at the group’s stylistic mashup of disparate genres. Challenging but worth the effort.”
“Here’s a trio of upright bass, drums and guitar that takes no prisoners. With a musical style that defies description ... these three play together going where the musical muse takes them. Bass and drums do what they do best, set the foundation, and create the rhythm while the guitar soars into the stratosphere. Sometimes the guitar slithers in all soft and dreamy while the bass takes the spotlight or at other times the drums.... there are many moments where the music is actually quite subdued and sparse, hypnotically drawing you in. Then there were times I had to check my CD player to see if it was smokin’ because the music was that hot. Fans of intense instrumental fusion will want to check this out for sure.”
“Not only proficient musicians, but performers that love to play together and have the skill to take a tune to a higher level. ...This group swings, grooves and improvise in a way that only musicians that have evolved a large vocabulary can.... This is a group that refuses to shoe-horn themselves into a single genre or style. Instead they fuse anything that is within their reach. And on top of that they can improvise within any of it, and talk to each other in ways that has to be experienced."”
"...Inspired and creative music, breathing some new life into the sometimes stodgy world of instrumental progressive rock music. Recommended."
"A sorta-rockabilly line-up but a world music/jazz/progressive music sound...tunes feature time-signature/dynamic changes like 2004's Crimson Jazz Trio album, or more precisely, like King Crimson as a guitar/bass/drum trio. ...this band has a bright future in a noncommercial sense."
"The playing on this album is complex, focused, and precise. Nelson's bass playing is mesmerizing, Voorhees plays with hypnotic ease, and Dill's guitars will knock you out. ... Our favorite cuts include "Drop the Needle," "Hawk and Mouse," and "Circus." Cool heady stuff with balls."
"... It’s definitely challenging music that is nearly impossible to classify. It also manages most often to groove....This is an exceptional instrumental set either way. "
"Ah, some contemporary malcontent music that blows to doors off their hinges. Adding a bassist to expand to a trio, this crew mixmasters world/jazz/prog/funk/fusion into a heady brew that's anything but one shaded sludge. With everyone heading off in different directions and somehow meeting in the middle, if you want to play this for grandpa, make sure he was into ‘Bitches Brew' Miles or else you'll give him a heart attack and really turn this into killer stuff. This is the kind of stuff genre busting ears require. Well done."
"[Pray for Brain]... scoff at the concepts of time signatures and common structure for 11 genre-defying tracks that both entice and challenge the listener. This album somehow delivers an experience that is all at once disjointed and experimental, yet accessible and catchy. ... there is a level of restraint that serves the songs well and drives them forward into heretofore locally unknown areas of jazzy brilliance. If nothing else, None of the Above is an album for music technique aficionados and proves that complicated music is sometimes so cool, you’ve just gotta get behind it."
"[The] funky alt-jazz, jam band-ish heavyweight ensemble Pray For Brain ...have succeeded in creating a deeply groovy collection of musical explorations that oscillate willfully between pure freedom and deep restraint. This ensemble has chops from here to there, and they aren’t afraid to pronounce their ascendancy with confident virtuosity tempered with an Eastern inflection. It’s drifty, mind-expanding stuff, and Dill’s chunky guitar—laced with sharp leitmotifs and wandering solos—is solidly anchored by a rhythm section that’s as deep and complex as any ocean. Turn the volume up to 11 for this one, kids. "
"The group’s more intense moments are evocative of hard/experimental rockers like Primus (during that band’s more mellow moments), as in “Grind Responsibly,” in which a driving straight-ahead intro in five quickly transitions into a jazzy swing feel and comes all the way back to the beginning by song’s end. The album has been a long time in the works.... But the wait was worth it, particularly for anyone who enjoys unique crossover music that is familiar enough to not deter the ear and sounds as fun to play as it is to listen to."
"It’s easier to say what it isn’t. It’s not power-trio rock, surf music, or funk. It’s not Sufi devotional music, bhangra, or jazz. It’s not bluegrass, jam band, or flamenco. In fact, as the title says, it’s None of the Above, but it does incorporate elements from all of the above, sometimes within the same song. It’s an ecstatic dance party perfumed with coriander. ..."
"...gloriously conglomerated of disparate elements..."
“No Musical Boundaries: Sama Duo taps rock, Middle Eastern and Asian influences”
"Guitarist / oud player Mustafa Stefan Dill and drummer/percussionist Jefferson Voorhees jam away on music that merges Eastern influences with funk. It’s catchy, challenging, spacey and spiritual all at the same time."
"...packed with Hendrix inspired blues licks and string bends, coupled with John McLaughlin out there raw energy bursting into beautifully sustained feedback parries with bass and drums... To coin a well known phrase, 'it's music, but not as we know it Jim.'" (for Stefan Dill Trio, 2002)
"Loud, burning, skronky stuff (although, they do calm down at times and indulge in some more restrained, quiet passages). It's all very beautiful if you're into this sort of thing, definitely for fans of Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and Nels Cline!! Cool." (for Stefan Dill Trio, 2002)
"Eine mitreißende Tour durch eine andere Welt von Klängen und Inspirationen. Flamenco? Ja - aber einmal ganz anders!"
" The work of guitarist Stefan Dill is as daring as it is ambitious and satisfying. ...These are tensions which propel the music - beyond hearing , which is what it ultimately aspires to- is all to do with the delivering of not just sound, but of a pure experience."
"... Dill's evocative solo nylon stringpieces are an ear-stretching hybrid of Bailey's stark pointillism and traditional flamenco gestures....full of delicate dynamic shading and poignant silences. Soulful and innovative."
"Very much in the flamenco vein ...while displaying a sometimes delicate and sometimes turbulent style. Yet his emotional playing has all the elements of what creative improvised music is all about...unquestionably an exceptional performance."
"The completeness and extreme originality of guitarist Stefan Dill's art is more than impressive...Crucially, his music is no potpourri: his tastes may be eclectic but he has his own, very distinctive, voice."