Organic Grooves: Black Cherry (2002)
At last here's something that shimmies down the middle. Electronic music too often veers to the right (into the brainless netherworld of four-to-the-floor beats) or to the left (into the over-intellectualized haze of pure abstraction). Not so with Black Cherry, the first electronica outing from Brooklyn's premier out jazz label. This one's fresh and sharp, amply clever but always in the saddle of a solid groove.
Some background: last year, free jazzers Hamid Drake and William Parker laid down a series of open-ended duets on AUM FI's Piercing the Veil, a down-to-roots improvisational affair. For Black Cherry, these sounds have been uprooted and replanted in a totally different context. Credit Organic Grooves for the new sound, a sort of loosely textured jam with synths, sub- bass, programmed beats and effects, plus a good measure of (clean or processed) samples from PTV. The sampled drums (whether tablas, frame drums, or the usual variety) stand out, as do bass and melody instruments.
Two primary features distinguish Black Cherry. First, the disc has a welcome supply of unexpected twists. When William Parker's bombard leaps out of the mix on "...will be unbroken," for example, it's like a gust of wind just ripped through the house. In general, the textures on this disc tend to have a lot of loose ends, where instruments and patterns enter and leave the mix at odd intervals.
The second defining feature is the sheer accessibility of the music. No trouble playing this one with or without your thinking cap, whether over dinner/conversationor just swaying to the flicker of a candle in the night air. The foundation pulse of Black Cherry never disappears. As much as Drake and Parker deserve credit for their contributions, this is most definitely an Organic Grooves recordmake no mistake. Best I can tell, producer Sasha Crnobrnja knows where it's at.
For more information on Organic Grooves, visit Codek on the web.
Track Listing: Gold Weave; All Be(tween); ...Will Be Unbroken; Satta Pox; Chronos Splinter; Light Within Light; Tundra Roll; Know Now Go.
Personnel: By Organic Grooves, produced by Sasha Crnobrnja and Zeb. Zeb: guitar, synths, programming, etc.; Gregory: melodica; Takuya: keyboard, trumpet. Samples from William Parker and Hamid Drake via Piercing the Veil.