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July/August 2001

Rob Wasserman
Space Island
Atlantic Records

Rob Wasserman's radical bass work and Dave Aron's drum machine/sampler prove a match made in experimental music heaven on Wasserman's Space Island. This wild ride takes listeners through all permutations of bass sounds, from the lumbering rhythms of the dramatic (yet dance-like) off-kilter romance "Nu Ballad" to fuzzy, warped effects layered on singing bass on the dark grooving "Wildside." Though the compositions here are nontraditional, Wasserman, Aron and the occasional guest do capture very specific moods and vibes. The Indian feel of "Love Song," for example, is drawn from a hypnotic hook, repeated like a mantra, and elliptical percussion, as well as unique utilization of trumpet and clarinet. "Hillbilly Hip Hop" sounds like its title: kind of a fiddling-on-acid piece, capped by Wasserman's scary vocal. Other trippy tunes include the high-register, twisted bass tones of "Ipanema" and "Got to Rock," a postmodern groover that squishes, bubbles and squirms its way across your speakers. Not for everyone, but those who enjoy stretching the limits and conventional uses of musical instruments will definitely be intrigued.

Originally published in July/August 2001
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