Kneebody: Low Electrical Worker (2007)
A young quintet on the rise, Kneebody's self-titled 2005 debut on Dave Douglas' then newly formed Greenleaf records was an obvious indicator of its potential. The group's sophomore follow-up, Low Electrical Worker (released on Colortone Media), is a dense amalgam of genres and styles delivered with a unified voice.
Filled with youthful vigor, Kneebody delivers a sense of palpable enthusiasm throughout these varied tunes. Weaving together an impressive collection of stylistic influences, the quintet knits threads of M-Base funk, post rock futurism, Sabbath-inspired thrash, bittersweet pop and chamber-esque introspection into a singular sonic tapestry.
Each piece runs through an array of perambulations inside modular structures; contrapuntal rhythms, polyphonic harmonies and metric tempo shifts are all part of the Kneebody aesthetic. Never just a means to an end, all these virtuosic trappings are at the service of tuneful, sing-song melodies bolstered by infectious rhythms. Accessibility is Kneebody's secret weapon.
With a distorted Fender Rhodes and fuzz-toned electric bass at its disposal, Kneebody occasionally rocks, hard. While the retro ambience of the Fender Rhodes is currently in vogue, it's nice to hear someone who really understands the intricacies and history of the instrument. Adam Benjamin is such a player. From waves of ring modulated distortion to ethereal vibe-like tonalities, he coaxes an array of otherworldly sounds from the instrument.
Bassist Kaveh Rastegar and drummer Nate Wood are an outstanding rhythm duo, interlocking in polyrhythms with an ease that belies their complexity. Saxophonist Ben Wendell and trumpeter Shane Endsley create a harmonious blend, weaving intricate dual horn counterpoint with ebullience. Always mindful of the tunes' structure, solos are thematically driven and designed to accentuate the tune at hand, not the ego of the soloist.
A heady blend of aggressive rock music conventions, gorgeously baroque pop melodies, virtuosic jazz improvisation and intricate compositional smarts, Kneebody forges headlong into the future. Low Electrical Worker is an ideal balance between popular music and jazz improvisation, fusion in the most perfect sense of the term.
Track Listing: Poton; Blue, Yellow, White; Dr. Beauchef, Penguin Dentist; Flood on 12th Street; Roll; Notwithstanding; Of Course; Finlayson; Cupcake Baby; Looking Back; Mahalia; Mr. Darcy; The Politician.
Personnel: Adam Benjamin: Fender Rhodes, piano, keyboard; Ben Wendel: soprano, alto and tenor saxophone, bassoon, melodica, Mouthman 5000; Shane Endsley: trumpet, pedals; Kaveh Rastegar: electric and acoustic bass, pedals; Nate Wood: drums.