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DRKWAV: The Purge

DRKWAV, the trio of keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Adam Deitch and saxophonist Skerik, is a vibe band. There is little in the way of harmony, melody or arrangement on The Purge, its debut album. Instead, there is the way the music feels: bleak, foreboding. And there is groove. Lots of it. Deitch, in fact, is best known for his work with a pair of funk ensembles, Lettuce and John Scofield’s Überjam group. So The Purge is a work of weirdness and experimentalism but also of searing beats, an “out” record that never really goes there rhythmically. There’s a unique tension on The Purge, a fascinating dissonance.

Brilliantly, though, the band more or less abandons its own concept on the last two tracks. “Gazzelloni,” an Eric Dolphy tune, has a catchy, unforgettable melody. And Skerik’s “Shmeeans Kuti,” an Afrobeat piece, gets pretty riffy. It’s not a better or worse path, but an alternate vision, a different way of looking at the same picture. Creative musicians know there’s more than one way to travel through the dark.

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