Urban Mythology, Volume 1
First off, a clarification: Freqs has a long “e” sound, as in freaks, as in raising one’s freak flag high, as in Jimi Hendrix.
An experimental power-trio project teaming guitar-killer Vernon Reid with funk-bass extraordinaire Jamaaladeen Tacuma and slamming drummer G. Calvin Weston, this volatile studio session—the third time the participants ever played together following two impromptu gigs at Tonic in New York and Tritone in Philadelphia—is grounded by the solid hookup between Weston’s pocket grooves and Tacuma’s bright, bouncy electric bass lines. On top of that ultra-funky foundation, Reid basically wails with impunity using an array of outrageous tones and extravagant 21st-century effects, creating waves of swirling psychedelia and “celestial church music” that would even make Hendrix stand in awe.
“A Tale of Two Bridges” is a Band of Gypsys-influenced jam (think “Freedom” without the vocals) that rides on top of Weston’s funky drummer syncopation while Tacuma bubbles menacingly underneath. Reid’s six-string assault here is positively trippy, marked by passages of Beatles-esque backwards-looped guitar and mind-boggling feats of speed picking, whammy-bar articulation and other bits of fretboard fantasia. The ultra-funky “Don Cheadle” is blues-drenched and strictly in the pocket, more indebted to the Meters than Jimi, though Reid does get off another grunge-toned solo that rockets into the stratosphere.
“Ghost Sign Crossroad” and the lyrically evocative “A Lost Way Found” both feature some creative, textural applications of guitar synthesizer by Reid, while the throbbing, double-bass-pedal-flailing speed-metal jam “Over and Under” showcases the guitarist flaunting a combination of extraordinary chops and Sonny Sharrock-like abandon. More rowdy house-party funk and scorching six-string licks can be heard on the boogie-bump jam “Nappy Hour,” the rock-fueled “Chump Champ Chunk” and the bluesy “Get Your Legs On,” and the set closes on a hellacious note with the sonic onslaught of “Street Corner Prophecy.”
Together these three creative forces exhibit a natural chemistry that makes impromptu jams sound like well-crafted futuristic funk symphonies.