John Medeski / Mathew Shipp: Scotty Hard's Radical Reconstructive Surgery (2006)
This is an album full of halucinatory noises and unearthly voices, swirling Moog and Wurlitzer atmospherics, and stabbing piano, all carried along on a deep funk beat. "Operation Chance sounds like rats trapped inside a piano which is being tuned while the workmen are in laying down floorboards. "St. Clare's Hospital is for the most part, more earth-bound, with Nasheet Waits' drums and William Parker's bass plotting a funky course through swathes of keyboard sounds; a catchy Mathew Shipp piano riff warms up, but just when you want or expect it to go somewhere, it disappears. This music could never be accused of being predictable.
It works best when Waits and Parker get into a groove, as on "The General, where Parker's deep bass and a slow Billy Cobbham-esque beat swing the tune along, or on "Eclipse, where John Medeski breaks out of the shackles. The pure armospherics of "Joint Disease could perhaps have been left on the cutting floor.
It all comes together beautifully, however, on the final track, "Round 2, which begins slowly, but with Shipp's piano providing great tension, it builds cosmically until it fades away when it should perhaps have died like an exploding star.
Scotty Hard has worked with a great group of musicians here and has orchestrated adventurous, challenging soundscapes from their work. His Radical Reconstructive Surgery will no doubt infuriate as many listeners as it delights.
Track Listing: Intro; Chance Operation; St. Clare's Hospital; Joint Desease; The General; Eclipse; Cocktail; The Peeler; Anatomy of Melancholy; Round Two.
Personnel: John Medeski: organ, Wurlizter, Moog synthesizer, mellotron, clavinet, piano; Matthew Shipp: piano, Wurlitzer, organ; William Parker: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums; DJ Olive: turntables; Mauricio Takara: drums, percussion; Scotty Hard: drum machines, samplers, Optigan, percussion.
Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings
Style: Fringes of Jazz