Medeski Martin & Wood: Hermeto's Daydream

I have become quite used to MMW's organ-grinding jazz-based jam-band forays. They always manage to cut a groove as deep as the Mariana Trench. To get out of some of those grooves, you need to be brought up in a decompression chamber. Thumping acoustic bass, pounding drums and a distorted organ make up the group's calling card. But a little change is good for the soul. John Medeski plays acoustic piano on "Hermeto's Dream." This is immediately intriguing. The trio shows its ambient side first with bursts of textured sounds. Then the guys kick into a bit of driving jazz before they go the free jazz and dissonance route. Bassist Chris Wood keeps the groove going, but he is down in the mix and not the dominant force he almost always is with this band. Disconnected themes emerge. "Hermeto's Daydream" probably loses some of the band's more jam-band or casual listeners. What is this music? Medeski is playing some far-out shit. He sounds like Cecil Taylor on a bender! (You younger jam-band fans can go look up Cecil Taylor in's Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians.) Medeski Martin & Wood's music is full of pulsing creativity, grooving power and occasional anarchy raised from a great depth.

January 15, 2009 · 0 comments


Nicky Skopelitis: Tarab

This is some far-out shit, man. The bass is vibrating my innards. I feel like I am sitting next to one of those cars in traffic that is really just a subwoofer on wheels. How do those people hear themselves think? The music is dub, Indian, fusion, African, etc. "Tarab," the word, seems to have various connotations in the Arabic world. The most compelling definition is that tarab is a higher level of consciousness that both musician and listener share during a performance. Perhaps that is an achievable state. I am certainly not thinking about anything else when I am listening to this piece. How could I?

Bassist Wobble is aptly named because that is what his bass does. It wobbles in the lowest discernable registers. Electronic noises, synthetic drum loops, the Indian beats of tabla player Hussain, the African strings of Suso and the sonorous violin of Shaheen all mix with whatever the hell Skopelitis is doing with his guitar. This stuff is on a different groove-plane entirely. When you realize that Skopelitis and his frequent collaborator, the ever-divergent composer/producer Bill Laswell, are behind the festivities, you will understand.

April 17, 2008 · 0 comments


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