Machine and the Synergetic Nuts — Leap Second Neutral
(Cuneiform Rune 210, 2005, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01Luckily ethicists have not wrapped their clutches around the topic of genetic manipulation in music, or we might find Machine and the Synergetic Nuts banned, seeing how they are the result of a secret research project combining the DNA of Soft Machine, early Weather Report, and maybe Medeski Martin, and Wood (the creators are understandably secretive about their methods). This quartet plays as if the excesses that gave fusion a bad name had never happened, combining jazz and rock in a way that both hearkens back to the heady days of discovery and basks in the kind of seamless integration of technology and live playing that comes from thirty years’ perspective. The focus is on interesting sounds and insistent grooves rather than stop-start precision and unison lines so fast they blur. Widely varying keyboard sounds, with lots of electric piano and organ run through effects devices, play off saxes for the leads, and the rhythms, whether in straight 4/4 or something more exotic, come off as funky without ever actually being funk. Except when they swing, as on “Neutral,” with its sophisticated acoustic piano and mutated walking bass line. Almost half of the tracks feature a guest guitar player, adding another element of unpredictability to the mix. Machine should act as an effective antidote to the bad rep tagged on fusion over the last thirty years. Take two and call me in the morning.
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