72

Jenny Scheinman: Mischief & Mayhem

Jack Huntley By

Sign in to view read count
Violinist Jenny Scheinman's Mischief & Mayhem fires on all cylinders. Everything works—from arrangements to overall track cohesion, from the music's fertile energy to the musician's creative interplay, and from the quality of sound engineering to the ingeniously accomplished album art—making this a near-flawless package of musical craftsmanship. Mischief & Mayhem indeed, as the album is nothing if not melodically mischievous within its sparkling sonic mayhem.

Scheinman has an innate ability to harness both the spirit and power of the avant-garde while, at the same time, engaging the harmonically familiar riffs of rock, folk, world, or classical modes. Aided by an expert cast of musical polymaths in guitarist Nels Cline, bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Jim Black, Scheinman wastes not a note in establishing the mood of musical journey.

Kicking off with a middle-eastern infused cadence over a tightly pulsing rhythm, the album opening "A Ride With Polly Jean" expands and deconstructs melodically several times as it patiently blends layers of sounds, nimbly maintaining interest throughout. Again, on "Blues For The Double Vee," the band creates a sense of anticipation by building off a repeating riff before exploring the same motif from numerous musical angles, creating a willing tension of expectation.

On the more experimental tracks, such as "Devil's Ink," chunks of sounds, half themes, and rhythmic pulses float in and out, as if calling out to Scheinman's sharp violin gestures before quickly darting off. It is not until six minutes into this nearly eight-minute song before a cohesive melodic statement emerges and yet, when it does (in a flurry of notes reminiscent of Robert Fripp's 1980s League of Gentlemen), the earlier disjointed themes coalesce, surprising the ear.

And it is this harmonic surprise that's at the heart of Mischief & Mayham's mesmerizing effect. Track after track moves in twists and turns that seem to come out of nowhere yet make a perfect auditory sense by the resolution. "The Mite," for example, moves back and forth from chugging rocker to sections of frenzied melodic ripostes before Scheinman and Cline eventually wind up together in a scratchy call-and-response of high end frequencies.

On "Ali Farka Touche" (an homage to the renowned Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure), Cline performs a splendid interpretation of Toure's sound and phrasing. Scheinman's violin, which had been part of the funky rhythm vibe, then charges off into a solo of short chops followed by lush plaintive lines before the song itself gets engulfed in the processed string noise that perfectly mimics a Toure affect.

Scheinman's violin is capable of great power, ingenuity, and wit on its own, but coupled with Sickafoose's agile bass and Black's multidimensional drumming, as well as Cline's astounding talent for making electronic circuits plugged into his guitar produce organic musical expressions, and the totality equals a rare musical moment. A moment of startling brilliance in all its vibrant mischievous mayhem.

Track Listing: A Ride With Polly Jean; Sand Dipper; Blues For The Double Vee; Devil's Ink; The Audit; Ali Farka Touche; July Tenth In Three Four; The Mite.

Personnel: Jenny Scheinman: violin; Nels Cline: guitars; Todd Sickafoose: bass; Jim Black: drums.

Title: Mischief & Mayhem | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "King For A Day" CD/LP/Track Review King For A Day
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 3, 2017
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Lost at Last" CD/LP/Track Review Lost at Last
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan" CD/LP/Track Review My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Reimagined" CD/LP/Track Review Reimagined
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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