Holy Harry Partch, Batman! This ain't DJ Bonebrake!
At least not the DJ Bonebrake who pounded out the rhythm for X and
The Knitters. Hell, he ain't even playing drums! What the hell is
that he's playing?
Well, that would be vibraphones, Robin, an instrument seldom used
in disco, so you are probably sadly unaware, but DJ isn't. He steps
out from behind the set now and again and makes actual music these
days with a handful of groups like the Bonebrake Syncopators and
Orchestra Superstring, but none as out there as the Trio. Knee-deep
in jazz and tripping around the edges of the Twilight Zone, Bonebrake
and partners in crime Paul Eckman (upright bass) and Danny Frankel
(the guy whose name comes up when people ask, if DJ's not playing
drums, who is?) have come up with an intriguing mix of--- and please
understand that I am not lessoned in jazz--- themes and variations
with elements of sci-fi and (I kid you not) Harry Partch, who evidently
heard music in his head which could only be played on instruments
Not that the Trio are that far out there. It is music and, at times,
some pretty damn fine music, like when they lay down the Martin
Denny-like Bernstein 007, a tune just this side of Quiet Village
or the exotic flavors of Tango. This stuff my mother, who absolutely
hated jazz, would have loved. Then again, these are the tamest of
the tunes offered here. Waltz and its theme are a bit closer to
modern classical in jazz format, repeating but not really building
and yet... There is something definitely going on and it is very
pleasing to the ear, but...
There are a lot of but's on this album, but (I included that one
for effect) they are good but's. Bonebrake seems to enjoy dancing
on the edge, his vibraphone a reverbed step toward the aforementioned
sci-fi, especially on Orpheus and Abstract, at moments perfect soundtrack
music for giant beetles and overgrown ants and even the slime of
The Blob. Close your eyes and you can see Mickey Rooney growing
while the room shrinks or the swamp folks sitting around the glass
jar, not the girls head in the swamp water. If you have never heard
Harry Partch and wondered, Orpheus and Abstract will give you an
The Bonebrake Trio are bare-butt and recorded live--- vibraphone
(and marimba on one track), bass and drums, which helps build the
aura. No voice. No knobs and chambers outside of the resonators
standard on the instrument. They don't need them. These guys step
into their own world when they play--- at least, when they recorded
this they did--- and gadgets would be downright superfluous.
One wonders where they will go next. I see a future for them in
films. There is something downright eerie you can do with a vibraphone
when you do it right and in a lot of thrillers, noise just gets
in the way. Building tension through music and effects. Hollywood,
you want to cut back? There's only three of these guys and they
know what they're doing. Might even be an Oscar in it for you....
Frank Gutch Jr.
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