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Meridiem — Full Catastrophe
(Outer Music OM-2017, 2000, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2000-10-01

Full Catastrophe Cover art

Percy Howard has license to slice and dice his superstar projects based on what continent you reside in. Italian label Material Sonori has already released Incidental Seductions, which is about half of the same sessions found here on Full Catastrophe. Another slightly confusing sync up is that this awesome line-up of talent (Vernon Reid (ex-Living Color), Trey Gunn (King Crimson), and Charles Hayward (Ex-This Heat, Quiet Sun)) toured as “Full Catastrophe” last year to resounding praise and support. I myself witnessed a spirited show at the SF Maritime Hall, which was both improvised and unknown to a crowd possibly focused on hits. Regardless, this disc itself occupies a territory much like Reid's previous band except for Howard's surreal and imagistic vocal lines. Reid himself is in fine shred form, tearing it up especially on tracks such as the funky “Shaft in Oslo.” But the album is not all high-tension workouts though; there are subtle elements, which appear as on “Lapis,” a ballad driven in part by touch guitar and restraint. But then the rest of the disk does push the envelope both vocally and melodically with Reid and friends primarily wailing across the backdrop. Hayward and Gunn do their best to keep the rhythm section together by courting abrupt and quick changes. Two versions (studio and live) of “Release” are included, possibly due to the combustible energy that is built up and then chucked straight into your face. While Percy Howard keeps turning out well-crafted esoteric product, he's not made enough inroads to his marketplace yet. His upcoming works with Bill Laswell may yet properly link him with a community, which can appreciate the scope of his abilities.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 20, 2000 releases

Related artist(s): Charles Hayward, Trey Gunn, Vernon Reid, Percy Howard, Meridiem


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