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Medeski  Martin & Wood - Radiolarians II CD (album) cover

RADIOLARIANS II

Medeski Martin & Wood

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.71 | 8 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The renowned keyboard-bass-drum combo from Brooklyn continues to defy anything approaching conventional logic, and at this stage in the band's ongoing two-decade long career I'm ready to admit they can do no wrong.

Volume Two of the trio's otherwise unrelated instrumental trilogy of albums offers another eclectic mix of mismatched but not uncomplimentary styles: space-rock improvisation, acoustic acid-jazz psychedelia, toe-tapping trip hop beats, and free-form instant composition, all fused into a unique and singular style. The ten selections here, together with Part One (and presumably the as-yet unheard Volume III), not only set a new creative benchmark for such an already wildly idiosyncratic group, but also breathe a gust of fresh air into the stale conventions of Jazz-Rock Fusion.

The new album is more immediately aggressive than its predecessor, beginning with the unexpected assertiveness of 'Flat Tires' (fans of mid-'70s MAGMA and KING CRIMSON are hereby put on alert), and continuing with the inner-city film noir soundtrack of 'Junkyard'. Beatnik groove fests follow jarring Post-Rock improvs follow swinging Jazz-Funk dance exercises, all composed and played with disarming grace and virtuosity, not to mention a playful sense of humor: listen to the seemingly spontaneous 'ijiji' (among others) for proof.

There's even the telltale orchestral drone of a Mellotron audible on several tracks, further evidence (if more was needed) that the band deserves a prominent spot on this web site.

As it was in Part One, the music here was fleshed out in front of an audience while on tour before the trio even approached a recording studio, giving the subsequent album(s) all the energy and vitality of a live recording. And after such a challenging set of original music the smoky late-night blues of 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down' is the perfect cushion for a soft landing: pure magic, and (almost) entirely acoustic.

Onwards now to Part Three, and what promises to be the final chapter of a potential five- star trilogy.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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