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Wayne Krantz: Good Piranha/Bad Piranha

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This is a bizarre one. Guitarist Wayne Krantz’s new disc, Good Piranha/Bad Piranha, comprises two versions each of four tunes. All are covers, of electronic and rap songs. Krantz has two different trios here, with three of his regular collaborators. That’s not a math error: The first four songs are with Nate Wood on bass and Keith Carlock on drums. For the second four, Wood switches to drums and Tim Lefebvre is on bass. (Lefebvre and Carlock do not overlap, so there is no reprise of their excellent 2009 album, Krantz Carlock Lefebvre.) Each trio plays exactly the same set, in the same order: Thom Yorke’s “Black Swan,” Ice Cube’s “My Skin Is My Sin,” Pendulum’s “Comprachicos” and MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” (seriously). Gabriela Anders adds occasional processed vocals for texture.

And texture is what this record is all about. The songs are not. Calling these tracks “covers,” in fact, is wrong. The hooks of the songs are all that is left of the originals. They are a way in, not a road map. Krantz and his buddies tear up the rhythms and melodies, incorporating the most recognizable four or five notes into their own jazz-funk-rock explorations. These are jams, not covers. The reason Krantz tackles each song twice is to demonstrate that the song doesn’t matter.

The second version of each is not like the first. Krantz’s own playing is affected by his choice of musicians; he’s more aggressive, even shredding, on the second “Black Swan.” Krantz explains nonchalantly in the liner notes: “Did some cover nights a while ago at 55 Bar. Realized it didn’t matter what songs we play, we still do our thing. These songs are fine, but it could have been anything. Went into the studio for 2 days, cut loose. Still like playing guitar.” Good, because we still like listening to Krantz play guitar.

Originally Published