143

Scott Amendola Band: Believe

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Scott Amendola Band: Believe A quick look at the personnel on this record should make two things clear right away, before you even hit play. First, the assorted misfits in the collection, who have worked in a mind-blowing array of improvised and experimental music styles, aren't likely to be pinned down or categorized here any more than they are elsewhere. Second, everyone but the leader, drummer Scott Amendola, plays a string instrument, which means that this miniature string orchestra—a quintet featuring violin, guitars, and bass—is likely to have a reverberant, textured sound. Which it does, but not always in the usual way, because there's also a heap of electronics in the signal path.

But that's about all the predictability that Believe has to offer. Bits and pieces bear some resemblance to familiar territory. For example, the second piece, "Oladipo," fairly drips with polyrhythmic funk, driven by pulsing guitar riffs and the sort of New Orleans-meets-Lagos drumming that Tony Allen invented back in Fela Kuti's golden era of Afro-beat. But the wildly effected and noisy guitar solo that Jeff Parker slips in midway through is a sign that this is 21st Century material. One thing a lot of people don't know about Tony Allen is that he took care of keeping Fela's biggish band together behind the scenes, and I suspect that Amendola is similarly responsible for this group's overall coherence.

The next piece, "Shady," offers a whiff of Americana through its rich harmonies, long tones, and warm character. Jenny Scheinman's violin playing certainly pushes things in that direction, but the barely restrained tension that comes and goes throughout the piece renders it significantly spikier. Things fully relax on "If Only Once," a lament which takes advantage of all those reverberating strings, but it's immediately followed by a harsh onslaught of square waves and driving country-rock energy when "Buffalo Bird Woman" kicks in.

Further pieces explore clean bop, lightly overlaid percussion, and outright aggression, in bits and pieces or in bulk. At some point it's better not to try too hard to classify this music, though, because the process is destined to be futile. Like Scott Amendola's previous outing, Cry (2003), the real goodies lie at the often difficult (and sometimes counterintuitive) intersections, not on the straight and narrow.

Brilliantly conceived and masterfully executed.

Visit Scott Amendola, Jenny Scheinman, Nels Cline, and John Shifflett on the web.


Track Listing: Believe; Olidapo; Shady; If Only Once; Buffalo Bird Woman; Smarty Pants; Valentine; Resistance; Cesar Chavez

Personnel: Jenny Scheinman (violin); Nels Cline (6 & 12 string guitars, lap steel guitar); Jeff Parker (guitar); John Shifflett (bass); Scott Amendola (drums, percussion, loops, live electronics, treatments, electric mbira, melodica)

Title: Believe | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Cryptogramophone


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Know Who I Am CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read With You In Mind CD/LP/Track Review With You In Mind
by Doug Collette
Published: July 26, 2017
Read Departure CD/LP/Track Review Departure
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 26, 2017
Read Roll On CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 25, 2017
Read "Reunion – Live From Cafe Oto" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion – Live From Cafe Oto
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 5, 2017
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Binary" CD/LP/Track Review Binary
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Undertaker Please Drive Slow" CD/LP/Track Review Undertaker Please Drive Slow
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "Tales & Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Tales & Tones
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Ida Y Vuelta" CD/LP/Track Review Ida Y Vuelta
by James Nadal
Published: December 30, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.