This week’s Selection: BIG Something’s live album collection: Live From Uranus.
Having spent last weekend reveling in the glory that is Phish, I found myself jonesing for more jam-band decadence, and I was lucky enough to stumble across BIG Something via noisetrade.
Describing themselves as “Funk, fit for the future”, BIG Something strikes me as what you might get if you crossed Phish (or maybe The Grateful Dead) with Parliament. Their old-school funk style, mixed liberally with some downright filthy jams, is made even more impressive by the incorporation of intricate synths and incredible saxophone.
The album starts off with “Megalodon” — an old school funk tune, lead by a bass that is warped past the point of description. The best I can think of is that it’s what a twang might sound like if you heard it from the bottom of a pool filled to the brim with funk. Underneath the layers of funk is jam-style guitar: different quick, groovy riffs, layered on top of each other. The lyrics of the song are more funk than jam, and it has a twisted guitar solo that melds perfectly back into the overall rhythm, if you’re into that sort of thing. Oh, and did I mention the saxophone? Yeah, the glorious horn makes itself known, playing a quick solo after the guitar, and also managing to rise right out of and fall perfectly back into the rhythm.
“Truth Serum”, the second track on the album, starts low and faint, with trippy riffs just barely at the edge of hearing. These riffs fade forward as the other instruments, and then an etherial voice, waver their way in, like ghosts sneaking through walls. The beat of the song picks up, lead by the drums, and just when you’re starting to think you’ve entered into a smooth, funky electronic jam, a dude starts rapping. The slam-poetry-ish style of rap combined with the groove of the music is reminiscent of Futureman laying it down with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.
Track three, “My Volcano”, is easily one of my favorite songs on the album. It starts off low then gets dirty real fast — a really grungy guitar-line leading a driving beat going into a solo that somehow manages to be both languorous and vicious at the same time. The title of the song is apt: the beginning of each part starts out restrained, like a dormant volcano. But the beat picks up and it builds and builds until suddenly, almost before you realize it, it erupts — first into the chorus, then into a blistering sax solo which transitions into an even hotter guitar solo, gushing musical magma straight into your ears, and pouring seamlessly into the final verse.
Not every song is as explosive as “My Volcano”, but there is nothing on Live From Uranus that is boring. “Captain D” is more of a standard rock tune, but with a rhythm based on sweet, intricate syth-work. “Rivalry” is a laid back, ultra funky jam that rises out of beautiful teamwork between the sax and some soft, Hendrixian guitar licks. There’s also the “Sirens Jam” which begins with wailing air raid sirens, warning you of the musical destruction BIG Something is about to wreak.
There is so much incredibly layered, intricate, and downright jaw-dropping music on Live From Uranus, I honestly feel like I could write an entire dissertation based solely on this album. However, rather than take up more of your time, I simply advise: Go get this goddamn album. It’s $7 on BIG Something’s bandcamp, and it is well worth every cent.
That’s all for now folks, stay groovy!