October 2005

Garage a Trois
Outre Mer

With the addition of percussion/vibes man Mike Dillon on 2003's Emphasizer, Charlie Hunter's Garage A Trois became a quartet. Outre Mer, the second full-length effort by the same lineup, is a soundtrack to a forthcoming Klaus Tontine film (the distribution of which is in legal limbo). Hunter and Dillon, with Skerik on saxes and Stanton Moore on drums, elaborate Tontine's surreal tale of Etienne, a "freakishly distinctive" boy mocked by his peers for his 45-inch height.

Save for the ambient anomaly "The Dream" and a downcast, vaguely Frisellian finale ("Amanjiwo"), the album is drenched in funk-with alternating traces of Latin, Afrobeat and second-line syncopation. Hunter anchors it all with his fat and fuzzy bass lines, while Dillon and Skerik team up for tight vibes-sax unison melodies. Tribal tom-toms and David Murray-esque multiphonics prevail on "Circus." Other highlights include the busily layered drums and percussion of "The Machine," the jittery 12/8 of "Needles" and the harmonically wrinkled boogaloo of "Bear No Hair." Serious grooves and varied sonics are the main attractions here, more than any individual performance.

Originally published in October 2005

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