At the Center
Thirsty Ear's blazing Blue Series has helped define jazztronica, the deft blending of improvisations with electronic beats and effects. For this edition the label has enlisted legendary sound sculptor Jack Dangers (aka Meat Beat Manifesto) for the fascinating At the Center. Dangers recruits the Bad Plus' drummer Dave King, keyboardist Craig Taborn and flutist Peter Gordon, and together they craft transportive, often menacing ambiances, distinguished by skull-cracking beats, secretive melodies and funky keyboard flourishes.
Dangers interjects apocalyptic spoken words throughout the album, giving off a dark, intriguing William S. Burroughs vibe, especially on the grim "Want Ads One" and "Want Ads Two," which sound like personal commentaries on global consumerism. But At the Center has its fleeting beautiful moments, too, like Taborn's impressionistic, sonically enhanced piano solo on the waltzing "Murita Cycles."
At once captivating and complex, sensual and sinister, At the Center is another jewel in Thirsty Ear's jazztronica crown.