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Groundtruther: Latitude

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Eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Bobby Previte decided to record three albums as a duo while using a different guest on each work. On Latitude, they’ve chosen alto saxophonist Greg Osby. (Longitude and Altitude will complete the trilogy.) If this opening salvo is typical, lovers of experimental music that blurs genres will reap huge dividends from Groundtruther’s concept.

Hunter has always been as interested in challenging rhythms as he is in unconventional guitar tones. But on Latitude, he focuses mostly on forging exceedingly strange textures. To say he steals the show is not to downplay Previte and Osby’s contributions; it’s simply to note that Hunter has surpassed his previous work for sheer ingenuity, finding extreme tonalities and timbres within his instrument that often recall Jon Hassell’s Fourth World music, a style that few musicians have ever explored with such acute sensitivity.

Right from the opening track, “North Pole,” Groundtruther plunges you into terra incognita. Hunter applies disorienting backward-guitar, sucking-vortex effects to create a stark, foreboding atmosphere, enhanced by Previte’s reverbed kicks and cymbals and Osby’s eerily calm alto sax lines. In “Arctic Circle,” Hunter distorts his guitar to Love Cry Want/electric Miles Davis specs, launching its alien, chattering wah-wah over Previte’s frisky, quasi-funk rhythm and Osby’s mellifluous, staccato sax filigree. This song and “Equator,” which sounds like a long-lost trip-hop gem excavated from DJ Krush’s vaults, are about as accessible as Latitude gets.