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Floratone: Floratone II

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A delightfully creative work, Floratone’s second effort presents soundscapes that trigger wonder and a drive to spot the allusion. Guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer-percussionist Matt Chamberlain turn Chinese in “The Bloom Is On” (don’t miss Jon Brion’s weird, echoey keyboard flares), lay down the best instrumental Roxy Music never wrote in “More Pluck,” and stretch New Orleans second line with exquisite drama in the segue from the spectral “Snake, Rattle” to the sunnier “Parade.” For rocking out, try “Move”; for funk, traverse “Do You Have It” and the Ry Cooder on Mars-styled “Gimme Some”; for hard, electric jazz, there’s “No Turn Back.” There isn’t a weak track in the bunch.

While Frisell and Chamberlain are the fundaments, producers Tucker Martine and Lee Townsend are just as much to blame for this unique potpourri. (Those four make up Floratone; the other players are credited as “special guests.”) A blend of composition, programming and assemblage similar to the work Teo Macero did with electric Miles, Floratone II is a stitching together of highly detailed, deliberate parts. (Frisell has said Floratone music would be very hard to recreate live.)

This music is subtle and swinging; Ron Miles’ cornet flavors “Parade,” Mike Elizondo’s bass and Brion’s yearning keyboards lend gravity to the Latin “The Time, The Place.” Eyvind Kang’s viola also weaves in and out of the startlingly original Floratone mix. The CD booklet provides very little information on who did what and where, but this is not a linear, geeky work; rather, it’s allusive, provocative and ambient without ever fading into the background. Music so haunting rarely has so much body.

Originally Published