Premier downtown jazz/funk merchants MMW (John Medeski on keyboards, Billy Martin on drums and Chris Wood on bass) return with a healthy dose of their particular groove, this time teaming up with producer John King of The Dust Brothers, best known for manning the boards for classics like the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique and Beck's Odelay among many others. The album takes the listener on a journey through the MMW universe, from loping funk (Curtis and New Planet) to Latin-tinged workouts (Mami Gato), Eastern-influenced atmospherics (Bloody Oil) to futuristic soundscapes (Anonymous Skulls), all the while sounding like the soundtrack to the best sci-fi/blaxploitation/porn movie you ever heard.
With each successive album, Medeski Martin & Wood have become harder to pin down. Having long ago transcended their soulful organ-groove basics to enter a more expansive world of snappy beats and backbeats, eerie atmospheric effects, post-lounge riffing, and the occasional jazz overture, they occupy their own category. Produced by the Dust Brothers' John King (Beck's Odelay
, the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique
), End of the World Party (Just in Case)
is an agreeably varied effort, ranging from the spacey effects and Middle Eastern taint of "Bloody Oil" (on which bassist Chris Wood lays down the lumber) to the sassy electric funk of "Sasa" (one of four tracks featuring guitarist Marc Ribot
) to the wordless voice effects of the jaunty title track. As ever, John Medeski is equally at home referencing post-bop piano aces like Herbie Hancock
, getting down on churning Hammond organ, and making like Stevie Wonder
with his "Superstition"-style synth. Unlike some MMW records, this one wastes not: all 12 tracks clock in at around the four- or five-minute mark, and they flow together with consummate ease. --Lloyd Sachs