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Wayne Krantz: Good Piranha Bad Piranha

Ian Patterson By

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If Wayne Krantz seemed to be embracing vocals on Krantz Carlock Lefebvre (Abstract Logix, 2009), where he sang on a third of the tracks, then the transition seemed complete on Howie 61 (Abstract Logix, 2012), where he sang on eight of the ten tracks, with the guitar—at least as an improvisational tool—taking a back seat to more melodic concepts. Good Piranha Bad Piranha marks Krantz' return to instrumental territory and reunites him with long-standing sparring partners, Keith Carlock and Tim Lefebvre. The music is rhythmically driving—with Krantz displaying all his old fire and invention—but this is, nevertheless, an unusual album in Krantz' discography.

The seeds for this session were planted following a number of cover nights at Greenwich Village's 55 Bar interpreting pop and hip-hop tunes. The momentum carried over to the recording studio, resulting in this set of blistering takes on four tunes by Thom Yorke, M.C. Hammer, Pendulum and Ice Cube. Each tune is interpreted twice, with different trio configurations each time. Carlock holds the drum stool on the first four tracks with Nate Wood on bass. Multi-instrumentalist Wood switches to drums for the second go round. Gabriela Anders' ethereal vocals are sparingly interspersed, adding textural contrast to the gritty, grinding rhythms.

The trio takes a circuitous route into Yorke's "Black Swan" as Krantz alternates between riffing guitar and ring modulator effects in a raucous trio intro. Bass and guitar lock into a three-note mantra over Carlock's highly animated stick work and it's not until the song's mid-point that Krantz addresses the melody. Ander's dreamy vocals float over the trio's simmering rhythms as Krantz juggles riffs, darting runs and effects in an engrossing closing passage.

Krantz is fired up on "Ice Cube's more easily identifiable "My Skin is my Skin"; the trio moves agilely through deep funk and drum and bass grooves into looser rhythmic terrain whose greater space draws Krantz into some exhilarating playing. The guitarist alternates between Industrial riffs, mazy improvisation and ring modulator distortion on a power-trio rendition of "Comprachicos," with Carlock driving the trio relentlessly. The famous melody of MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" serves as a launching pad for Krantz' sinewy explorations and an infectious trio jam.

The same tunes second time around—with Wood on drums Lefebvre on bass—are totally remolded. "Black Swan," taken at a faster clip and minus the take-it-or-leave-it ring modulator is largely unrecognizable from the first version. "My Skin is My Skin" shares the deep funk vibe of the earlier rendition but none of the same moves. Greater collective urgency characterizes the second reading of "Comprachicos," though at a third of the duration it feels insubstantial by comparison. "U Can't Touch This" follows the loose, yet intense jam blueprint of the first version. Krantz revisits the iconic motif one final time, a reminder—in case the journey obliterated the memory—of the original source of inspiration.

Following the stylistic diversion of Howie 61 Krantz returns to familiar stomping grounds on Good Piranha Bad Piranha, letting his guitar do all the singing. With this biting and rhythmically vital release Krantz underlines that it's not the material but what you do with it that counts.

Track Listing: Black Swan; My Skin is My Skin; Comprachicos; U Can’t Touch This; Black Swan; My Skin is My Skin; Comprachicos; U Can’t Touch This.

Personnel: Wayne Krantz: guitar; Nate Wood: bass (1-4), drums (5-8); Keith Carlock: drums (1-4); Tim Lefebvre: bass (5-8); Gabriela Anders: vocals.

Title: Good Piranha Bad Piranha | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Abstract Logix

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