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Matt Chamberlain/Bill Frisell/Tucker Martine/Lee Townsend : Floratone

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Floratone has a complicated premise. In 2005, guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Matt Chamberlain, the instrumental half of the Floratone quartet, recorded a free-improv session together. They then gave the tapes to the production half, Tucker Martine and Lee Townsend, who hewed 11 song-length tracks out of them and returned them to Frisell and Chamberlain for overdubs with bass (Viktor Krauss), cornet (Ron Miles) and violin (Eyvind Kang). The final product of two years’ work is a set of saturnine, post-everything sound paintings, ambient yet strangely earthy.

Mostly, it works. The pieces on Floratone are hypnotic, usually arresting and occasionally, as on “Mississippi Rising,” even boisterous. Townsend and Martine let their respective loves of dub reggae (“The Passenger”) and country and folk music (“Take a Look”) set the pace for much of their behind-the-board work, with Frisell’s jazz pedigree and Chamberlain’s pop sensibilities meshing within the raw material. At Floratone’s best, these disparate elements converge into evocative, delicately beautiful music, especially on the ultramodern penultimate track, “Frontiers.”

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