The second volume in Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previte's planned trilogy of Groundtruther albums, Longitude is both more extreme and more rock-oriented than its predecessor, last year's Latitude. That album included Greg Osby as its featured guest musician, and though it was light years away from the mainstream aesthetic in its focus on electronica, soundscapes, and new technology, it would probably still be recognised as jazz by many members of this community.
Longitude, by contrast, features turntablist DJ Logic as the guest, cranks ups the new technology input, favors rock riffs over funk grooves, isn't shy of in your face three-chord aggression, and generally turns everything up to eleven. The music is dense and multitextured, shorn of all but the most basic concern with melody and harmony, with Hunter and Logic constructing slablike layers of urgent, distorted, more-or-less deconstructed riffs over Previte's thunderous beats. Reactions within the jazz community are likely to be polarised and passionate.
It's a blast, and no mistake. Most everybody likes to rock out occasionally and this one will definitely shake your tree. But is Longitude as radical as it appears to be? Technologically yes, and in Hunter's mastery of his 8-string axe yes, it's full of new constructs and sounds of surprise. But the rock context in which Hunter gets to work is unmistakably Twentieth Century, rather than contemporary or futuristic. There are echoes of Hendrix, as you'd expect, but also a massive injecton of Cream, Spooky Tooth, Black Sabbath, and other British rock and heavy rock bands of the late '60s and early '70s....
Parts of "Course Made Good" and "Prime Meridian" sound uncannily like Cream might have sounded if all three members of the group had mixed as much amphetamine with the acid as Ginger Baker did. There are even Beatles resonances: check the descending guitar arpeggios towards the end of "Transit Of Venus." Funk hasn't been entirely thrown out, and dub gets a look in, but both are sideshows to the main event.
If you want really radical rock outrage, however, Acoustic Ladyland's Last Chance Disco, with its embrace of thrash and grindcore, is without doubt '05's most apocalyptic, headbanging, and in-the-moment contender. Groundtruther is a well nasty warmup band, though, and guilty as sin, and I salute it.
Visit Charlie Hunter, Bobby Previte, and DJ Logic on the web.
Personnel: Charlie Hunter: 8-string guitar; Bobby Previte: drums and electronics; DJ Logic: turntables.