Animation: Agemo (2011)
One of the more intriguing albums issued in the first half of 2011, Animation's Asiento (RareNoise, 2011), has now begotten one of the best sets of the latter part of the year.
Asiento was a live reimagining of trumpeter Miles Davis' seminal Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970), recorded live in December 2006 as part of the Reissue: Classic Recordings Live series, at Merkin Hall in Manhattan.
Agemo is itself a reimaging. This two-CD set is made up of the same six tracks that appeared on its predecessor, but only as a jumping off point.
Disc One is Asiento in a "3D60 Headphone Mix." Leave any cynicism for remix albums at the doorbut do bring your headphones. You see, "3D60" refers to a technology (and company) that seeks to deliver something of a wide-panned, "surround" experience through traditional stereo playback. Perhaps the most well-known use of this process was on the collaboration between The Orb and David Gilmour, Metallic Spheres (Columbia, 2010). As utilized here, it is no gimmick. The airy, psychedelic music of Animation is ideally suited for this space-bending approach. The sonic acrobatics are always placed at the service of the music and are true enhancements. It's trippy stuff. To bring the point home, the liner notes state, "TO BE LISTENED WITH HEADPHONES!" Do as you are told and you will not regret it.
Disc Two is once again given over to the same six tracks but this time in completely new forms. An all- star line-up of producers and remixers slice, dice, edit, dub and transform the program, each bringing exactly the touch and flavors they are known for without reverting to cliché. Bill Laswell is spooky and ambient, where DJ Logic and Phabao layer in the dub. Youth is in all of his trance glory for "John McLaughlin," Fanu's got his breakbeats, and Joe Claussell applies his ambient house to a nearly twelve-minute take on "Sanctuary."
All of this music fits squarely within the spirit of Bitches Brew on so many levels. At its most literal, trumpeter Tim Hagans and producer/saxophonist Bob Belden conjure the 1970 Miles Davis sound with reverb, wah and other processing. Bassist Matt Garrison is the son of John Coltrane alum Jimmy Garrison, and he provides a dynastic link to the innovations of the 1960s. The use of technology and other African- inspired musical forms, especially on the remixes, are a reminder of Davis' electric era. Most cogently, though, is the spirit of fearless adventure all of the participants bring. The confidence and skill they contribute to the proceedings make this more than a tribute record. It is an acknowledgement of, and a show of respect to, a kindred group of artists, from another era, communicated across time and space.
Track Listing: CD1 (3D60 Headphone Mixes): Pharaoh's Dance; Bitches' Brew; John McLaughlin; Miles Runs The Voodoo Down; Spanish Key; Sanctuary. CD2: Pharaoh's Dance (Bill Laswell Song of Panthalassa Remix); Bitches Brew (DJ Logic and Grant Phabao Remix); John McLaughlin (Youth Middle Class Riot Remix); Miles Runs The Voodoo Down (Gaudi Remix); Spanish Key (Fanu Lightless Remix); Sanctuary (Joe Claussell Hidden Revealed Version).
Personnel: Bob Belden: saxophones; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Scott Kinsey: keyboards, synthesizers; Matt Garrison: bass; DJ Logic: turntables; Guy Licata: drums.