on April 23, 2012
Medeski Martin & Woods have been at it for two decades with great success. But over that period, their albums have become progressively more produced, and in the last decade had a more hip hop, chopped up feel due to (in my opinion) excess editing. Sometimes you just wanted the guys to play, like they do in a live setting.
The Radiolarians series seems to answer that request rather directly, as each of the three CDs focus on long and complete performances, partly composed and partly improvised. I would rate the first two at least four stars, but the winner among the three is the last one, which is peppier, with more emphasis on the beat in every song. MMW's trademark sonic experimentation is still here in great abundance, but Radiolarians 3 would be the one where I would recommend to start. It flies along like a house on fire, and if you liked it, then proceed to the first two in the series, where things are a tad more avant guard.
on August 4, 2009
This whole Radiolarians series is phenomenal. If you're new to MMW you might want to start with Shack Man and Friday Afternoon in the Universe... but this is all pretty accessible even to the uninitiated. These guys are just amazing, I feel they're historically great. But leaving aside their "importance", just put on some headphones and lose yourself here. Highly, highly recommended.
on July 31, 2010
This is the culmination of the Radiolarians experimental writing process and the band caps it off with wonderful results. The bands chops and interplay are in fine form after jumping into the studio right from the road with the tunes fully fleshed out.
Call me crazy but I think the first 3 tracks are telling the musical story of the Katrina tradgedy. Track one "Chantes Des Femmes" being a rousing celebration of the pre- hurricane New Orleans music scene. I love the rollicking, hard driving drums by Martin. Track two "Satan your kingdom must come down" expressing the mix of sadness and fear as the monster storm approached the coast and finnally track three "Kota" is the storm slamming into the great crescent city. Medeski is amazing on this track, he fills all the empty spaces of this simple groove as he tinkles the keys to symbolize the rain and slams the piano to approximate the stunning force of the wind.
Wood has to be one of the great bass players of his generation. He is a consumate artist.
Track four sounds to me to be influenced by the Benivento - Russo Duo as MMW perform in tighter, more structured parameters on this one. Almost a standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus contruction. Very intersting.
The remainder of the CD continues the greatness, check out the reggae-like grove in of the final track, what a great riff.
Give this one a few listens and you will be just as entertained as I have been by this peerless work of art.