By Harry Cleveland
Fender bender Bill Frisell is pleased
as punch with the knob and finger twiddling on Floratone.
a page from the Miles Davis/Teo Macero playbook, guitarist Bill Frisell
and drummer Matt Chamberlain teamed up with longtime production pals
Martine and Townsend to create this studio-collaged musical masterpiece
- but Floratone doesn't sound anything like Bitches Brew or In
a Silent Way. The "futuristic roots music" presented here began as
several hours of freewheeling improvisation by Frisell and Chamberlain,
who then turned the reulting tapes over to the producers. Martine
and Townsend assembled compositional outlines from the best parts,
and then Frisell wrote and arranged melodies - played primarily by
violist Eyvind Kang and cornetist Ron Miles - and overdubbed more
guitar parts. Contributions from bassist Viktor Krauss and additional
drum and percussion overdubs by Chamberlain completed the process.
11 compositions flow one into another like segments of a steady-moving
river - in turns brooding, swampy, choppy, effervescent, and translucent.
Chamberlain's tasteful grooves and accents provide the deepwater
impetus, while Frisell's soulful vamps, plucky palm-mutes, shimmering
harmonics, textural twang, and spacey atmospherics weave together
into so many currents and undercurrents, as the horn and string lines
glide majestically over the surface. As intriguing as it is enjoyable, Floratone is
easily one of the best records of 2007.