If you wanted to be fastidious about classifying Gutbucket, you might say it’s a rock band with jazz chops and inclinations. But Gutbucket probably wouldn’t want you to be fastidious: While its latest album, Sludge Test, has more than its share of canny musical tricks and devastatingly precise playing, guitarist Ty Citerman, saxman Ken Thomson, bassist Eric Rockwin and drummer Paul Chuffo also know just when to pile on the noise and blow away any neat conceptions.
Sludge Test features extensive multitracking, allowing Gutbucket’s sound to swell at will—Thomson drops some lovely sax blends over a spiky groove in “Disciplining the Fugitive,” and the careening chords in “Punkass Rumbledink” gain impact from the four tracks Citerman gets to pound on. Solos feel like a lid exploding, with Thomson or Citerman reaching into hysterical upper registers. Short tracks land one solid punch, while longer tracks have a cinematic sweep and diversity: “The Plague of the Legions” begins with a heady rush before taking a free-jazz detour and winding up for a lusciously chaotic finish.
Covering Olivier Messaien’s “Danse de la Fureur Pour les Sept Trompettes,” Gutbucket begins straight and extracts a tremendous stomp from it by the end. Both reverent and hilarious, it’s a fine capper for an album that takes its fun seriously indeed.