Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ceramic Dog - Your Turn (Northern Spy, 2013)

Guitarist Marc Ribot has led a number of ensembles during the course of his career, but perhaps none quite as dynamic as the post-rock collective Ceramic Dog he shares with Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Ches Smith on drums. Mashing together progressive rock, jazz fusion and furious improvisation, they hit on a find combination of music that is frequently exciting. Split between purely instrumental tracks and songs with vocals, there is a nice flow to the album. Ribot's guitar is the centerpiece of blistering performances like "Your Turn" but the nature of the trio working add a cohesive whole is what makes this scalding instrumental so impressive. "Masters of the Internet" is the finest song with vocals on the album, a withering beatdown of music pirates, and those who see music simply as bits and bytes rather then a labor of blood and toil. Set to a withering rhythmic beat, the song pushes its message relentlessly home with sarcastic lyrics leading the way. One thing that is not sarcastic is their exciting version of Paul Desmond's "Take Five." Given the circumstances, one would think that covering this song would be an exercise in piss-taking parody, but it is far from it. The group takes this song straight and improvises a unique arrangement and performance of it. "We are the Professionals" has a "Masters of the Internet" stomp feel to it, with Smith developing a solid bass drum groove and the group chanting out the lyrics before moving into the set ending "Special Snowflake" which ends the program on a high note. This was a consistently interesting album, one that covers a wide range of territory with a unfettered and open approach to music. Your Turn - amazon.com

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