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Medeski  Martin & Wood - Uninvisible CD (album) cover


Medeski Martin & Wood


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.10 | 12 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Not too many active bands enjoy the privilege of having a peerless critical reputation equal to the reach of their talent and ambition. The trio of MEDESKI MARTIN AND WOOD is one such group, succeeding over the years in upending the otherwise stale traditions of modern Jazz (not unlike what RADIOHEAD did to Indie Rock circa "Kid A" and "Amnesiac"), in this case by adding a healthy measure of trip-hop grooves, ambient electronica, and retro-Prog improvisation.

By the turn of the last century the Brooklyn combo had positioned itself as the aesthetic heir to the legacy of post-"Bitches Brew" MILES DAVIS, expanding the psychedelic avant-funk experiments pioneered by the erstwhile jazz trumpeter during the seminal "On The Corner" sessions, but updated to a new millennium and stripped down from the large-scale ensemble noise of Davis' bands from the 1970s.

This year 2002 recording offers a perfect example of the MMW sound: a deft instrumental blend of distorted Hammond organ and relentless (albeit swinging) rhythms, all of it bathed in a halo of reverb and echo effects. And this time around the dirty urban funk is augmented by even more turntable scratching and crunchy guitar accompaniment, and by the addition to the mix of the occasional horn arrangement (in strictly homeopathic doses, and often heavily treated: listen to the track "Nocturnal Transmission" for details).

In truth this effort breaks no new ground from its immediate studio predecessors, the aptly- titled 1998 album "Combustication" and the year 2000 freakout of "The Dropper". The haphazard narration of "Your Name Is Snake Anthony" duplicates (but improves on) the likeminded reminiscence of Combustication's "Whatever Happened to Gus", and guest star DJ Olive fills the same role here as DJ Logic on the earlier album. Elsewhere, the game of ping-pong heard behind the suitably groovy beat of the album closer "Off the Table" recalls an identical bit of audio-verite from the Krautrockers of CAN (see their self- titled 1979 album, aka "Inner Space").

So there's a lingering sense throughout the album that the trio is merely treading water. But not without their usual energy or style: check out John Medeski's amusing pitch-bent, drunken keyboard solo at the end of "Take Me Nowhere", or the smoky space-lounge atmospherics of "Where Have You Been?" (with its clusters of eerie Mellotron chords)

Bands of this caliber typically carry a heavy load of high expectations with every new album. But such a creative outfit like MMW should be allowed the luxury of stopping every so often to survey the new territory they've recently opened. Consider this one more a consolidation than a breakthrough, and no less enjoyable despite its relative lack of innovation.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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