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Album Review

DJ BONEBRAKE TRIO
The Other Outside
Wondercap Records

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 he created.

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 idea.

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....




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