All great performances, be they athletic or musical, start with a solid base. For guitarist Will Bernard that is a trio with drummer Ches Smith (Ceramic Dog, Snakeoil) and completing Bernard's bass (sic) with both the acoustic and electric input of bassist Chris Lightcap. Upon this foundation Bernard is inspired to expand his music with the help of keyboardist John Medeski and saxophonist Tim Berne. Medeski can be heard on the guitarist's 2008 album Blue Plate Special (Palmetto Records) and Bernard correspondingly returned the favor performing on John Medeski's Mad Skillet (Indirecto Records, 2018).
With trio alone, Pond Life would be an exceptional outing and four of the ten tracks are just that. Bernard, Lightcap, and Smith lay down lubricious and funky blues with tracks like "Surds" and drop heavy ordinance on "Motoozm' with both the guitarist and bassist employing pedals and effects with their instruments. Smith utilizes his brushes on "Lake Of Greater Remnants" to draw a landscape for Bernard's acoustic guitar and Lightcap's firm acoustic bounce.
Adding Medeski's Hammond B3 to "Poor Man's Speedball" ups the fat content of the album, as does his piano exploration "Type A." With the inclusion of the saxophone, the music veers towards Tim Berne land. The title track resembles the urgency we might expect from Berne's Bloodcount or Science Friction. When the trio becomes a quintet, as on "Still Drinkin'?" Bernard ups the ante. The tracks suggests a punk/surf Batman theme with its spacey effects and sprint into turbulence. Only one other track, "Four Is More," features all five musicians. Its engaging complexity and interplay inclines listeners to ask for more from the next outing.
Poor Man’s Speedball; Type A; Surds; Still Drinkin’?; Pond Life; Four Is More; Moving Target; That Day;
Motooz; Lake Of Greater Remnants.