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It's an inside joke: The All Rectangle is actually a trio, but they round up after adding a fourth (guest) musician. With the unpredictability of the fourth member, The All Rectangle always keeps close to the edge. Ke Ala Mano marks this group's first appearance on record, after live performances in a variety of settings.
The bedrock foundation of The All Rectangle's rhythm section grounds Ke Ala Mano. Derek Crawford's insistently thrusting drums push and prod the beat forward, drawing heavily from rock and fusion styles but rarely sticking in a specific groove for long. The addition of electronics (wielded by Brad Bowden) drenches the beat with thick textures, evolving effects, and plenty of distorted sounds. Rounding out the core trio, bassist Alana Rocklin often plays a surprisingly up-front melodic role, in addition to her vital efforts to thicken up the groove.
The opener, "The Body Language of a Race Horse," starts out gently with spooky ambient textures, then the bass and drums step in to add understated punctuation. Little by little, the music defines itself with a reverberant Eastern-sounding bass melody. Then, with a whisper, it's goneand the next tune carries on. Like a locomotive, once the group gets up to speed, it's hard to stop. By the time electric trumpeter Mark Kirschenman (!) takes the stage, they're powering forward. Searing, distorted energy marks the peak; then, after a moment of reflection, the group ascends the mountain from a different angle.
Ke Ala Mano sounds like an updated fusion for the 21st century: elements of electronica, funk, rock, and improvised music balance each other out for a true union of styles. The special guests on this record each add a distinctive personal touch, but the core trio marches ever forward. The dominant force in this music is the beat, which is so thoroughly interlaced with Rocklin's bass lines that it becomes a fierce beast of its own. Don't expect any kind of swing or bossa novathis is not lounge or parlor musicbut The All Rectangle achieves a nice balance between rockin' structure and liberated improvisation. Ke Ala Mano stretches the boundaries of jazz, rock, funk, and electronica in fresh directions without the slightest bit of heavy-handedness.