Greg Segal is making up for time away from music with his third new album of 2015. His notes for Skeleton Parade explain that the pieces were built on improvised drum tracks: “skeleto-centric, a ‘Skeleton Parade’. This is a method I have used in the past, and have been intending to work a lot more with since setting up the kit. I see nearly endless possibilities from this. The goal is to have the end result be as organically linked together with the ‘skeleton’ as possible, so that the whole is flowing and intra-active”. We also learn that the drum tracks were recorded during and before the sessions for Greg’s previous 2015 A Handful Of Ashes and Beauty Sleep sets, so it’s no surprise that the albums are musically, if not thematically linked.
Greg has been fusing, intertwining and morphing a variety of Avant-Prog, Jazz and Classical styles these days with intriguing results. The Five Loves Of Shifty Ella Throckmorton recalls the chamber ensemble sound of early Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, with horns, winds, piano and who knows what else creating scenes that are alternately haunting and childlike playful. And throughout the piece the drums act like a conductor steering pace and thematic development. Varied avant-jazz percussion serves as an intriguing counterpoint on the eerily ambient Banish The Unconstructive, with its sci-fi electronics that seem to exist at the crossroads where Louis and Bebe Barron and Mr Roger’s Neighborhood meet. I like the underlying darkly meditative spaced out ambience that slowly drifts as frenetically playful jazzy synths and heavily fuzzed keys dance and drone, all seemingly guided by the percussion. Finally, the 21 minute The Zen Of Thrift Shopping is an intricately composed and arranged combination of symphonic theater, Kurt Weill, Carl Stalling, The Residents, Kosmiche Prog and Jazz themes. The thematic gears shift at a mischievously constant and impressively seamless pace, guiding us through a labyrinth of melodic, symphonic, soundscape and efx’d twists and turns. You could listen to this a hundred times and hear something new with each spin.
Maybe there’s something in taking a few years to focus on parenting and coming back with the creative batteries recharged and sights set on new horizons because Greg is really on a roll this year. And damn, I never knew what a fine drummer he is! Those who are tuned in to Greg’s expansive Paper Bag, Jugalbandi, Cold Sky, Dog Neutral and solo background will be especially impressed.
For more information visit the Greg Segal web site at: http://gregsegal.com (There’s LOTS of history and information here)
Stream and download from the Greg Segal Bandcamp site: http://gregsegal.bandcamp.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz