First posted on Mark Is Cranky:
Right smack in the middle of three hours of lawn mowing, my thoughts wandered around to Gene Krupa, Charlie Christian and Thomas Edison. What would those men think of what had become of their respective 'instruments': drums, guitar and recording device?
This was no heat-induced musical non-sequitur. No, I was listing to the latest Groundtruther recording (this being part two of the series, with DJ Logic as guest artist) on my new & fresh iPod...so instead of the muffled drone of the grass-chomping Husqvarna, it was Bobby Previte's neo-surf drumming, Charlie Hunter's 8-string guitar and DJ Logic's freaky turntablism.
Music like this refuses to be categorized. Jazz? In spirit. Funk? Plenty. Rock too...sort of. Whatever you end up calling it, there's no denying that the forementioned 'instrumental fathers' would have been impressed (maybe not pleased, but definitely impressed).
While Previte's drumming isn't so far removed from the Big Band era, Krupa would none the less have been appreciative of the swanky use of polyrhythms, start & stop sequences and the brilliant snare technique. Charlie Christian surely knew his way around the fretboard but...8 strings? All of those other sounds? Simultaneous bass and guitar lines? And Edison? The iPod is quite a leap forward from the wire recorder. Still, I'd be willing to bet that he'd appreciate the technological sophistication and elegance. I can even imagine the smile spreading across his face as he listened to DJ Logic's abuse of the turntable.
Longitude opens with some microtonal weirdness and scratchology before Previte drops in a stiff backbeat. Hunter lays down a low groove to which he adds middle register distorted accents (man, that 8-string is the Swiss Army Knife of electric guitars!) Hunter then heads into the 'theme' (if you can call it that) which, with its descending arpeggios, reminds me of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". Already, in this first tune, we have bits of nearly every genre these guys like to play in: surf, funk, hip-hop, rock, pop and jazz. All in under six minutes.
The palette-cleansing ambiance of "Tycho Brahe", where hunter explores a series of slowly morphing chord changes (and where Previte and Logic play otherworldly call & response), we get to shake it to the surf-meets-hip-hop of "March 1741, Cape Horn". Dang, that Previte never ceases to amaze with his somehow off kilter yet right in the pocket skin whackin'.
Jumping forward to "Dead Reckoning", a more sinister kind of groove emerges. It's almost like Praxis playing the Talking Heads. Start and stop. Squeak and roar (yea, Charlie Christian mighta been frowning here). There's more of this sort of 'industrial funk' interleaved between the spacier tracks. For maximum funk, check out "Back-Quadrant", an upside-down James Brown thang.
As much as I love this band making the big noise, there's just as much going on in the quieter material. It's on tunes like "Medicean Stars", "Epherimedes", "South Heading" and the closing untitled track that you can just hear Logic, Previte and Hunter listening as much as playing. Great stuff.
So the question remains: would Krupa, Christian and Edison like Groundtruther? Well, probably not. But hey, you never know. Great minds tend to have lots of, shall we say, room for expansion. Looking at it from another angle, sometimes experiences outside of your comfort zone can actually expand your mind in ways that you've never thought possible. Can Longitude do that? Hey, don't take my word for it. Your ears are in charge.