Prog is The Bad Plus more live and intuitive than ever.
Amar Patel 2007-07-20
‘We’re making music to engage the audience’, insists bassist Reid Anderson. And after experiencing this sinuous and spellbinding set from the trio you’ll agree wholeheartedly.
Prog is the first release on the groups’ own imprint, Do The Math, and signals a marked rejuvenation full of zest and primal hunger after the comfortable Columbia years. Sure, the covers are still there – Bowie’s ‘’Life On Mars’’, Rush’s ‘’Tom Sawyer’’ and Tears For Fears’ ‘’Everybody Wants To Rule The World’’ all get deconstructed and spun out from lilting intros – but they are more than matched by the original compositions of Anderson & co (‘1980 World Champion’ for instance).
Rather than pondering motives for choosing such covers – “is it irony… is it sincerity or is it a mid-life crisis?” – let’s accept Prog for what it is: a free-spirited and fun excursion into the dynamic of the trio format by a twenty-year-old highly literate band of ‘gypsies’. The album title suggests wig outs-aplenty and introspective noodling, but despite some gloriously ‘out to lunch’ moments on tracks such as the panoramically ferocious ‘’Physical Cites’’ (superbly co-produced by one-time AC/DC engineer Tony Platt) the trio explore light and shade, the ballad and the brusque, through Ethan Iverson’s dramatic scurrying and occasionally disorientated swoops on piano (‘’Tom Sawyer’’). He’s ably abetted by David King on drums (adding almost retro backbeat to ‘’Life On Mars’’, then brutal blows to ‘’Thriftstore Cowboy’’) and the strong pulse of Anderson (‘Giant’).
By no means glamorous or gimmicky, but certainly invested with the cinematic scope and epic proportions of 70’s rock (take a bow Tony Platt), Prog is The Bad Plus more live and intuitive than ever.