Label/Year: Self Produced, 2017
Lineup - Brian Charette: organ, electronics; Ben Monder: guitar; Jordan Young: drums, electronics.
The extreme agility of Grammy-nominated Hammond organist, Brian Charette, is widely known, regardless the musical style he decides to jump into. Working with a wide range of musicians from different backgrounds such as Chaka Khan, Lou Donaldson, Joni Mitchell, and Will Bernard, the virtuosic musician applies his refined musical skills to a dashing, revolutionary new work entitled Kurrent, where he leads an extremely bendy trio with Ben Monder on electric guitar and Jordan Young on drums.
Charette’s genre-bending experiments, enhanced by a debonair amalgam of electronics and soaring layers of synth, immediately earned my sympathy on the opening tune, “Doll Fin”. A floating bass groove transports us to a sleek soul with hints of funk, so typical of the 70s. Psychedelic organ-driven melodies are set against the catchy current braced by the sustained atmospheric sounds of Monder. The latter sets the house on fire with a quick-witted solo that shows his outgoing musicality, and the tune re-acquires the loungy expression for Charette’s improvisation before segueing into a rock-infused discipline propelled by an effusive polyrhythmic approach and galloping unisons.
“Time Changes” boasts a pretty memorable riff as a basis, embarking on a progressive jazz-fusion that would be approved by bands such as Return To Forever or Soft Machine. The danceable rhythm, nearly Brazilian, is emancipated by Young, whose drumming style is tailored for this record.
Besides a wonderful organist, Charette reveals his adroitness in electronic manipulation and voice sampling. “Mano y Mano” is a good example, combining Kraftwerkian robotic words, breezy psychedelic soul, and striking heavy metal passages with a feel-good posture. A cutting guitar improvisation confirms what we already knew: Monder is as much effective playing limpid jazz textures as uncompromising distorted rock.
When the smooth jazz of George Benson hugs the contemporary post-bop/fusion of Pat Metheny, you get “Honeymoon Phase”, which precedes “Schooby’s Riff”, an outlandish exercise devised with an obstinate bass groove upfront and a routined backbeat. This groovy setting, crisply textured by Monder’s mind-blowing chords, is periodically interrupted with vocalized samples and giddily weird vibes. The final moments bring once more the irreverence of the guitarist, who unveils the hard rocker in him.
Boasting a rising sense of playfulness while positively quivers with edgy melodic pointillism, “5th Base” has something of Funkadelic but particularly reminisces Frank Zappa in its jazz, funk, and rock instigations drowned in bluesy undertones.
Opposing to the classical suggestions and some experimental textures of “The Shape of Green”, the deep funky spirit of the last track, “Catfish Sandwich” invites us to move our bodies uncontrollably, somewhere at an underground dance floor.
Kurrent, a riveting spiral of unprecedented modern fusion with reverence for the dandy sounds of the past, is likely the boldest record from Charette, a visionary artist to be followed very closely.
01 - Doll Fin ► 03 - Time Changes ► 09 - 5th Base