Music Reviews by John Rickman
Wizardzz – “Hidden City of Taurmond”
Wizardzz is the side project of Lightning Bolt bassist Brian Gibson and Bug Sized Mind machinist Rich Porter. Using only drums and synthesizers, the two summon forth a sensational racket that is at once aesthetically ecstatic and magically delicious.
Gibson, oddly enough, sounds like his Bolt band mate and Mindflayer drummer Brian Chippendale on the skins: big, beefy, and bombastic. His fiery, rhythmic flurry gives Wizardzz’ fairy funk an edgy groove, but it plays second fiddle to Porter’s sparkling, improvised synth twiddle and melodious mantras.
The duo crafts a feel-good, instrumental electro-rock sound akin to Cluster on steroids. Indeed, Wizardzz succeed in suggesting a mystical force is at work within their music.
Somehow the instrumentation makes sense together. However, on one or two occasions, Gibson drops out of the mix all together to allow Porter the space to throw down a sequenced electronic hoe-down. These compositions are cute and cartoonish and catchy as hell.
As it turns out, Brian Gibson is also the man behind Barkley’s Barnyard Critters, an irregular animated cartoon series that also features Porter’s strange synthesizer sounds…
Barkley’s Barnyard Critters – “Mystery Tail” DVD
“Mystery Tail” is the latest installment of the Barkley’s Barnyard Critters saga, which tells the story of rocker dog Barkley and his band of freakish animal friends. In Gibson’s animated animal world, unrealized dreams of rock stardom compel a band of crazy creatures to do the wackiest things.
The cartoon epic features hand-drawn and 3-D animation as well as live action characters, the combination of which is reminiscent of Hanna-Barbera’s Banana Splits Hour. Hand-drawn or otherwise, the characters’ voices can be downright annoying and the plot mildly confounding, but that’s part of the charm of Barkley’s barnyard world.
The DVD also features a live Wizardzz performance that’s worth the price of admission alone. And all this time I thought Brian Chippendale was the more prolific and multi-talented Lightning Bolt thrower!
Dub Syndicate – “The Rasta Far I” (Collision)
Reggae artist Style Scott, who first enjoyed success as the drummer for Price Far I and the Arabs and later for Creation Rebel, came to prominence in the 1980s playing for the reggae collective Dub Syndicate: one of the many musical projects spearheaded by British On-U Sound label boss and producer Adrian Sherwood.
Scott’s nimble rhythms and electronic drum style helped define the label’s futuristic Rasta sound back in the day, and today he continues to record under the Dub Syndicate moniker for his own label, Lion & Roots, which he founded in 1998.
Scott’s music is still exciting and forward thinking. His new double CD, “The Rasta Far I” (released on the German Collision label), pulls the best tracks from the Lion & Roots back catalog and presents them in both mega-mix and version fashion.
The double disc set features vocals from some of reggae music’s biggest superstars, such as Big Youth, Junior Reid, and Gregory Isaacs. The rhythm tracks were recorded at the legendary Tuff Gong studio and were mixed by both Sherwood and Scientist. Nuff said.
– John Rickman