Charlie Hunter/Bobby Previte: Longitude (2006)
Longitude is the second installment from Groundtruther after Latitude (Thirsty Ear, 2004), which featured the core duo of eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter and percussionist/electronica specialist Bobby Previte with guest saxophonist Greg Osby. Replacing Osby this time around, DJ Logic provides a surreal soundscape on the wheels of steel to weave in and out of Hunter and Previte's synergy. While Osby contributed some soulful fluttering and organic contrast to the electric duo, DJ Logic's smattering offers an appreciation of consonance and purism.
Many of the song structures and solos lack the momentum and timelessness of which the the trio is otherwise capable. The group is so caught up in the novelty of its instrumentation that it loses sight of the joy that a catchy melody and digestible song can convey; we are left with jam band autopilot. On "Course Made Good a promising riff sounds like it may actually turn into a fist-pumping anthem, but instead a phasing effect steals the spotlight and we are witness to a showcase of post-production experimentation.
The band finally does make good on its earlier promise in the next track, the live recorded "Dead Reckoning. The tune begins redundantly as stream of consciousness outbursts, but as it progresses, Hunter plays pass-the-music-potato with Previte and we are soon in a full-throttle explosion of Hendrix-like wailing. The band's strength here, like later on "Jupiter Mask and then on "Prime Meridian, lies in its ability to unearth sheer energy within strong communication.
The insubordinate use of turntables, virtuoso instrumentalists (at some points the screaming guitar and spinning sound so together, it's as if Hunter traded up is axe for a 16-string), and a great track record for surprise give Groundtruther so much potential on this recording. Unfortunately the band gets caught up in those qualities that make it great and loses sight of the appeal of cogent song. This truly is one of the great jam bands; unfortunately a good jam doesn't necessarily require great songwriting.
Track Listing: Transit of Venus; Tycho Brache; March 1741, Cape Horn; Course Made Good; Dead Reckoning; Medicean Stars; Jupiter Mask; H-4; Back-Quadrant; Epherimedes; Prime Meridian; South Heading; Untitled.
Personnel: Charlie Hunter: eight-string guitar; Bobby Previte: drums, percussion, electronics; DJ Logic: turntables.