Electronic Music, Jazz
Reviewed by Steve Paraskos, September 1st, 2014
The Grid has answered the question posed by the epochal American composer Frank Vincent Zappa on the cover of his 1984 live album: Does humor belong in music? Well, coupled with The Grid’s au courant virtuosity – yes.
This trio comprised of Tim Jago, guitar, Dane Alderson, bass and Ben Vanderwal, drums, has released a striking collection of works. From the light-footed, intricate meanderings of the opening track – Jago’s Major – to the masterful reworking of OutKast’s 2003 electrifying hit Hey ya, it is clear from the onset that this is an album to revisit like a homecoming, welcomed by The Grid’s smiling warm embrace.
The Grid flips the script on every track, moving deftly from pop to Satie, to forceful jazz and stammering digital debris. There is no telling whether each composition will swing to higher heaths or willfully collapse under the combined weight of each performer’s skill and breadth of musical historicity.
My Sugar begins with all the hallmarks of a Scofield tune; however, Jago stretches the sections, expanding into disparate sonic states before contracting back to the established norms before Alderson drops into a 90’s rap-metal feel reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine. This piece transitions to Suggestions for life: a lampoon analogous to a new-age Jerry Garcia meditation cassette, interspersed with the pseudo-philosophical self-help teachings of Deepak Chopra. Conversely, Vanderwal offers truly sensible advice such as “If you find yourself perspiring during sports, wear more headbands” or “On a plane, never go to the bathroom barefoot after turbulence” and “Before a competitive eating meet, stretch your stomach with cabbage, its mostly water”.
The Grid tell The tale of a man (who likes country) and his son (who likes metal) who live together and fight over the stereo but one day resolve their differences over a Led Zeppelin record comparable to many of John Zorn’s Naked City works with short, sharp sections that turn like a dial on a radiogram.
Resonant of Commodore 64 from The Grid’s eponymous debut album, this collection concludes with the breathtakingly grand title track Wear More Headbands. Battery powered pocket metronomes click as the band laxly erect with succinct arpeggiated loops before fluttering crystalline, reversed guitar delay lines shine atop analog synthesizers that build to blistering 80’s power-pop wonderment.
This is no album to laugh at – Jago, Alderson and Vanderwal invite you to laugh with them as they promptly wipe that smile from your face and leave you wide-eyed and agape with their pure and mystifying sounds.