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January/February 2006

The Ripple Effect
Hybrids
Golden Beams

Play the Ripple Effect's Hybrids for some friends of different musical persuasions and without telling them who it is and you'll probably be surprised by the guesses. Fans of IDM, aka Intelligent Dance Music (i.e., stuff that draws on 20th-century classical music more than disco), will likely think it's a collaboration involving Four Tet, Boards of Canada, Squarepusher or Andrea Parker. World-fusion fans may think it's the latest effort from Banco de Gaia or Euphoria. Jazz fans will think of Graham Haynes late-'90s electronic projects and perhaps some of the more ambitious collaborations from Billy Martin or Ben Neill.

Instead, the Ripple Effect is Jack DeJohnette's latest project, and it's an electronic experiment that pairs him with John Surman, Foday Mosa Suso and others. They create a reserved but wide-ranging series of tracks that wend their way through but never dwell on drum 'n' bass, dub, ragas and several other musical styles. Although it's a statement of impressive eclecticism, it lacks distinction. There's nothing here to distinguish this from a soundtrack at a hip coffee bar, little that stamps it as the project of one of the best jazz drummers of the last half-century. As background music, Hybrids is a ravishing success; as an artistic statement, it's far less so.

Originally published in January/February 2006
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