Saturday, July 05, 2008

JAMBANG - Connecting CD (SST/2008)
If you're comfortable with the idea of Greg Ginn being a musician as opposed to punk rock icon, then this CD is something you should get yer ears around in the year 2008. Ginn - no introduction needed - has thrown a few musical curveballs the last 18 months. Just last year, he released two albums I really liked: one by The Taylor Texas Corrugators, who spewed out a kind of messed-up, Sharrock-esque take on Western swing; and one by his long-running trio/solo project, Gone, who released their best album in eons w/ The Epic Trilogy, a 2CD set which lived up to its "epic" title (and, realistically, could've been shaved down a tad) and featured none other than notorious/infamous/legendary/etc. Bad Brainer, HR, on vocals. If you're letting this stuff simply escape your radar because you felt like Ginn went off the musical map in the '90s, never to return, then you're doing yourself a grave disservice. His music is jumping in a thousand different directions, and there's lots of goods to be had. And that brings me to Jambang, his new project which navigates the "jamband" minefield with three young players by his side. I briefly wrote about 'em 6 months ago or so, though that was only judging by their MySpace page, but now I have their debut CD in my hands: Connecting. I've had it for a week, flogged it, given it the spin the car and have a reached a verdict: it's the best thing he's done for - geez, a long time - and again traverses a completely different pathway to just about anything w/ his name on it. JAM BAND... get Dave Matthews outta yer head, or Phish, or that dude w/ dreadlocks you see juggling fire down the market corner. This is, putting it ever-so-simply, a psych-tinged rock band who "jam", who find a groove, a momentum, and ride w/ it. They also don't sound like too many other records in my collection. Surprisingly, there's little 'Dead damage in their sound; I'm reminded more of the Manzurek/Kreiger aspects of The Doors as filtered through the minimalist drone of Spacemen 3. Ginn's guitar is uncharacteristically elegant and flowing, with none of the jagged spikes and outbreaks he's renowned for. It's also fairly melodic throughout, with basic riffs worked on and expanded, giving the almost verse/chorus structures of the songs a lyrical quality. Bass, mandolin, multiple keyboards (organs and synths) and guitars intertwine throughout, w/ portions of this bringing to mind Television's revolutionary take on an aggressive prog/psych-rock sound, though that's a red herring which'll probably bite me on the ass later on. What this is is very good indeed, an excellent, contemporary take on psychedelic instrumental rock, a beast flogged often, but rarely does it sound like this. You will be surprised...

2 comments:

Michael said...

I also hear the mellow side of your faves PELL MELL in the mix somewhere . . . though when the mandolin kicks in, I am no longer hearing much that I've ever heard before in my life.

It's those slowly unfolding, simple/repetitive note riffs that really mark this as unique. At first it hit me as kinda plodding/leaden, but after Ginn plods for 5 minutes or so, it all takes on a whole new dimension. Tony Conrad & FAUST w/ more chord changes? Maybe. It's addictive, that's for sure.

Disaster Amnesiac said...

Just saw the live version in SF on Friday night. Go and see 'em if you can! It's a bit heavier than the CD, but very musical and very Ginn-like. I plan on going to the 7/9 show in Oakland, at the Stork. They're worth multiple shows, for sure.