Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Floored by the Tone

I had a Big Serious Post about a major social issue planned for today, but things took a wonderful detour instead.

The distraction came in the form of a simple MySpace bulletin from whomever runs Bill Frisell's site (maybe the man himself?), announcing today's release of a CD from a group called Floratone, featuring Frisell on guitars and effects, UNT and SNL alumnus Matt Chamberlain on drums, and...two producers? OK, now I remember reading about this group.

Here's what happened: In much the same way that the legendary Teo Macero assembled the Miles Davis masterpieces Bitches Brew*
and On the Corner, Tucker Martine and Lee Townsend took raw material generated by Frisell and Chamberlain's studio jams and ran with it--editing, looping and processing it until they came up with a set of "songs." From there, bassist Victor Knauss (of Frisell's West Coast group) came in and added bass lines, and Frisell wrote horn and string parts to be played by Ron Miles (cornet) and Eyvind Kang (violin/viola). Chamberlain and Frisell added some more tracks of their own, and, two years after the initial studio jams, Floratone was born.

This isn't music that's easy to describe with one or two simple words, as it doesn't really fit into a specific genre. John Kelman of All About Jazz calls it Ambient Americana Sound Sculpting, while co-producer Townsend chooses "futuristic roots music." All I can say is that it's a fascinating combination of sounds--not 100% jazz, but there's a strong element of that in there, along with Chamberlain's catchy grooves, Frisell's trademark sound painting and the cool, skronky effects added by the producers. (Incidentally, the band's name is a hybrid of Martine's Flora studio and Townsend's Tonefield Productions.)

The band's website generously allows the first five tunes on the CD to be played in their entirety, and I heartily recommend checking them out. Having just seen Frisell in concert recently and purchased one of his CD's, I've been getting into things that have been a bit off the beaten path. The CD has already been ordered, and the website will keep me sated until the package arrives.

*Uh-oh...there goes my blog's "G" rating, I bet...

Weird gadget of the week: As the temperature continues to top 100 degrees in the Metroplex this week, office workers who are not fortunate enough to work in casual settings might enjoy this device: A USB necktie cooler that plugs right into a laptop! (It's a Babelfish translation from a Japanese site, so the instructions contain a wonderful helping of Engrish. Hat tip: Lileks, over at buzz.

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