Friday, October 14, 2005

The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity?

The Bad Plus' second album of 2005 is a companion to their Blunt Object live album released earlier in the year. This album also captures some of the compositions they have been playing during their recent extensive touring. The title refers to the band's suspicion of the American government, but whatever your political views, the band continues to move forward with its adgenda of interesting compositions and quirky cover tunes.

Drummer Dave King dominated the performance the band gave in Princeton that I was lucky enough to see, and he contrimuted a couple of interesting and clarion compositions here, with the thumping "Anthem of the Earnest" and the song that has become their theme of late, the politically inspired "The Empire Strikes Backwards." The real hero for compositions on this disc. however, is bassist Reid Anderson. His moody, deeply textured compositions make him the heart and soul of the band. Ehere King provides the thunder and pianist Ethan Iverson the wit, Anderson provides the poetry and grace that make the band a complete whole. Songs like "Prehensile Dream" and "Lost of Love" show a deep consciousness and empathy that people don't often expect when listening to The Bad Plus.

Of course, this wouldn't be The Bad Plus without a quirky cover and in this case it's the theme from the film "Chariots of Fire." It is very interesting how they approach this song. The structure is deeply improvisational to begin with and then finally climax the improv with the very familiar melody. With this album, The Bad Plus have begun to escape the enfant terrible tag they have been burdened with in the past and strike out on new and ambitious territory.

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