If the Knitting Factory issued its own play-at-home CD-ROM game-"Pick your own instrumentation and influences and mix it yourself!"-it might produce something like Gutbucket, a quartet that, for all its enthusiasm, comes across as something like a well-done sonic composite. In evidence, InsomniacsDream arrives freighted with the elements that made cheeky Downtown iconoclasm into a house sound: aggressive funk, rampant eclecticism, a high tolerance for corn, irreverence to spare and a wiry, manic energy that constantly threatens to spill over. The formula just as easily turns up raucous, fun modern jazz as it does sophomoric toss-aways such as "Song of Seasickness."
Guitarist Ty Citerman, as just one example, draws heavily from the chang-chang style of James "Blood" Ulmer, which can be heard to impressive effect on "Sweet Tooth, Bleeding Gums." On tune such as "Consumption," the band's airy, open sound compares with bands like the Other Quartet or, more distantly, the Tiny Bell Trio. Paul Chuffo's drumming on "Ornette's Computer People" borrows from skittering drum 'n' bass rhythm, while "Don't Fall on Dirty Mary" weds the increasingly common fascination with Middle Eastern-sounding scales, played here by saxophonist Ken Thomson, with passages of heavy-metal distortion.
The band generates real excitement on InsomniacsDream, but for all its talent, Gutbucket hasn't found its own sound yet. The frequent off-mike whoops of encouragement could be kept in check as well.