How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Uncompromising creativity. That's the harmonic buzz underscoring every note that pours from The Slip. On their first full concert release, these players announce immediately that they are forging their own path, but they've made it wide enough for anyone with the ears to hear to join them, living proof that an adventurous spirit can also be catchy as all get out.
Opener "Old George," with its bullets and boxes, shows that pop music need not lack character or complexity. And then without a word we're immersed in the electric Kool-Aid pool of "More Intense Surveillance," and you begin to see how the times we live in have affected the band, the specter of eyes and suspicion needing to be addressed by the trio. "Fear of Flying" sounds like the Boards of Canada in all their synsethized countryside glory discovering the joys of classical song form. "Nellie Jean" could be a calypso jazz ramble from Marcus Miller during his tenure with Bob James and David Sanborn. And that's just the first four cuts. In lesser hands this might come across as random, but Andrew Barr (drums, vocals), Marc Friedman (bass, guitar), and Brad Barr (guitar, vocals) continually weave continuity into what they do.
Often it is the blood-pumping bass of Friedman that does the job, getting nutrients to cells and carrying away the junk, soothing and scary, jubilant and joyless, never one thing for too long. Like Jacob Fred's Reed Mathis, Friedman will influence the next generation of bass players by showing them that all the fences between styles are illusionary; what's important is the ohm lying at the center and Friedman delves down to that place again and again and again.
There are hooks here but barbed ones, sharp in truth and texture. Case in point: "If One Of Us Should Fall," which sounds like a collaboration between the Police and ECM mood conjurer Terje Rypdal, complicated emotions set against an equally swirled musical backdrop. One takes a journey, bindle over shoulder, on this pair of discs. The Slip seems always to be going somewhere. It's not too far off the main road but if their compass dictates they'll delve into the brambles and weeds to root out buried treasures. A fabulous night captured in amber for one and all, and a worthy followup to the equally exhilarating Aliveacoustic and Alivelectric CDs, all three ideal places to jump into The Slip's organic mélange of pop, jazz chops and thoroughly modern experimentation.
Track Listing: Disc One: Old George, More Intense Surveillance, Fear Of Falling, Nellie Jean, The Air, The Body. Disc Two: If One Of Us Should Fall, Children Of December, Ho Syne No Day/The Bongo Dance, Seranetta, Chasing Rabbits, Proud, Get Me With Fuji, Imagine
Personnel: Brad Barr - guitar and vocals, Marc Friedman - bass and guitar, Andrew Barr - drums, vocals