Kneebody: Low Electrical Worker (2007)
Kneebody's second full-length album starts off with an aggressive dose of jazz and industrial rock on "Poton." Drummer Nate Wood's slow, deliberate rhythm is irresistible, bordering on obnoxious, and tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel's improvising skills are well-suited to the quintet's combination of pop sensibility, jazz meditation and rock ferocity. A wave of soundstrumpet, effects, Fender Rhodes, melodica, to name a fewhit the ears, but Wendel and trumpeter Shane Endsley's heady improv style meshes well, making everything sound cohesive.
The waves become more aggressive as the record progresses. On "Roll," Fender Rhodes pianist Adam Benjamin takes on the obsessiveness that Wood had on "Poton." Again, Wendel and Endsley make the songtheir exploratory counterpoint balancing the repetitive percussive beat and the tune's pop music leanings.
Things start to slow down by the seventh track, "Of Course." Wood is subdued, Benjamin introspective and the brass duo more reserved. While "Finlayson brings back the energy that "Poton and "Roll had, it is, like "Of Course," more a jazz tune than it is an amalgam of post-rock and pop. On "Mr. Darcy," bassist Kaveh Rastegar's complex rhythms are forceful in an intriguingly understated way. As always, Wendel and Endsley ground the tunesthough they do excel in analytical improv, they can also play with a pop sensibility.
Low Electrical Worker is a great follow-up; its brand of free jazz and pop rock is balanced and distinctly Kneebody. Somehow, though, the quintet still manages to experiment and this record's trajectory, from aggressive rock to introspective jazz, is evidence that Kneebody still has more to say.
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, clavinet, synthesizers; Shane Endsley: trumpet, effects; Kaveh Rastegar: bass; Ben Wendel: tenor saxophone, melodica, effects, Mouthman 5000; Nate Wood: drums.