Funkmeister G & Bret Hart - "Duets: Volume 2" (InstrumenTales Records 2002)
Funkmeister G - "Who Got Da Fonk?" (Bulbous Confusion 2003)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: January 2004
The second improv-by-mail collaboration between Funkmeister G and Bret Hart features the former on slide guitar and effects and Bret on dobro, acoustic guitar, e-bow, glass and steel slide. With both being credited with slide guitar and Bret on dobro I suspected the music would offer up an interesting take on the Blues. And sure enough, the opening track, "This", is a slow, sludgy, noisey 5 minutes of anarcho Blues that's like a destructo freakout take on Beefheart (himself an anarcho take on Blues). And like the first Duets volume between Bret and the Funky one, this set is considerably more violent and rocks harder than what is typically heard on a Duets disc (though Bret & Jeff Mcleod's Dynamic Negativism and the latest Duet with Greg Segal are exceptions that comes to mind).
After "This", there are two more lengthy stretch-out tracks: the 16 minute "Them" and the 13 minutes "That". "Them" begins with wandering guitar parts from the two that explore Blues and avant free-improv stylings, though quickly building up to a sonic aggression dirge that brings to mind Hendrix, Sonic Youth and even Stoner Rock. The slide guitar pops in at times to inject a fucked up Mississippi Delta feel, which combined with the contrasting guitar parts offers the listener oodles of confusion and delight, depending on your openness to the possibilities of truly freeform-to-the-max improvisational rock music. There's a part I really liked in the last few minutes of "Them" where carefully placed, almost ambient warbling and somewhat liquid notes create a very cool and relatively meditative effect, while the second guitar is embroiled in a ripping solo... and then things calm down and bring the piece to a close on a fairly serene note. For all the aggression and chaos the track is well structured with a definite beginning, development and end.
"That" is a bit different, being something along the lines of a marriage between Robert Fripp's guitarscapes, avant free-improv stylings, classical orchestra and a theatrical sense of scene building. The chaos and aggression are still present, but this is among the most calm, considered and thematic music on the album. Freakout solos coexist harmoniously with ambient sounds, with the very last moments of the track being my favorite... one guitar abruptly finishes it's assault, allowing a single pulsating and winding space note to bring the piece to a close. Very nice.
Funkmeister G also has a new CD of his own out called Who Got Da Fonk? The funky one is actually Australian sound explorer Graham Halliday, who enlisted his buddies Bumscuzz and Farnz (from the excellently zany Vocabularinist) and Frankie Death to create a decidedly warped interpretation of... you guessed it... FUNK!
The first three tracks are varying mixes of the title track. The opening Pulsating Perversity LP version is a quirky Residents meets Aksak Maboul meets Grandmaster Flash meets Snoop Dog tune that will make your toes tap and your head spin out of control. Lots of cool, fun and well constructed craziness. The Choose Yr Own Dementia LP version is considerably less pounding and with more focus on free-improv elements. And the Mr Bollinger Remix is similar to the previous, but sounds like a raw avant-garde all night rave mix.
"I'm Going Nowhere But I'm Doing It In Style" gets two treatments: the DJ Urinal Cake remix and the New vox loungey mix. The former is a spaced out and totally warped dance tune for wheelchair bound aliens. And the second is an equally cosmic deep Dub version with strange tripped out narration and atmospherics. "Theories On Sound" continues the space vibe, with a very interesting blend of DJ and rap styles, all within a wild but controlled sound-art context, and includes all the elements that I liked so much in the opening "Who Got Da Fonk?" track. Rounding out the set with more funky fun is "Lazin' Round Ze House" and "Soy Death (AKA Ripped To The Tits)". In the mood for some artful weirdness? Check this out.
For information about Who Got Da Fonk you can visit the Bulbous Confusion web site at:
Email at: email@example.com.
For information about Bret Hart's Duets series you can visit the InstrumenTales web site at: http://hartsongs.tripod.com/bret_hart_page1.htm.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz