Band/Artist: Pat Mastelotto
Album: Recidivate 2 Disc Set
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Label: 7d Media
Genres: Prog Rock, Jazz
RIYL: King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer, XTC
Drummer Pat Mastelotto has been involved with many unique projects over the years including the ground-breaking and game-changing King Crimson and XTC, as he delivers Recidivate, featuring a personal perspective on on his outtakes, rarities, and other highlights of the past 20 years.
On board for this effort are Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Robert Fripp (King Crimson), Stick Men (Mastelotto’s ongoing touring trio with Tony Levin), Terry Bozzio (Missing Persons), Naked Truth (featuring avant-garde jazz musicians Roy Powell and Cuong Vu) and of course tracks from TU (also Ktu, Tuner, Tunisia and MPTU), and Mastelotto‘s long running partnership with King Crimson band mate Trey Gunn.
Mastelotto has had a very exhaustive career, making records for the better part of 35 years. This “retrospective,” if you dare to call it as such, is broken up into two discs of 21 tracks a piece with this first release under his own name. The first disc is entitled Traps, and the second, Buttons. Traps highlights his work using acoustic drumkits and percussion while Buttons highlights his ability to twiddle knobs and put together electronic percussion.
Each of the discs spans over many genres, ranging from jazz explorations to blues and pop! Highlights from the first disc include the opener, “Salvaging Remix Mash,” which features Steven Wilson, the jazzy “Faster Than An…” which features trumpeter Cuong Vu (David Bowie, Pat Metheny), the lurching slow-stomper “Blackwell”, and the Stick Men tracks “Hands Part 1” and “Soup.” The latter tracks feature some amazing acrobatics and a wild dervish of slogging rhythms cascading in and out. You’re never quite sure where Tony Levin and his comrades are going, but if you’re a King Crimson fan, this feels like a natural extension of the band, offering even stranger and complex rhythms and melodies.
“Alpha & Omega” sounds like a Latin-tinged version of tracks from the classic King Crimson record Discipline. “Kataklasm” (with Ktu) sounds like a mixture of the aforementioned Crimson and features moody melodies reminiscent of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. His work on California Guitar Trio’s “Melrose Ave,” is fantastic. The eastern melodies swirling around his very Turkish percussion style works wonderfully, reminding the listener of artists such as Goran Ivanovicor and Andreas Kapsalis. “Soup”, as mentioned earlier, is one of the better highlights on Traps, stomping, thudding, and zoomimg about with immaculate percussion from Mastelotto. The vocals are done in the same style as Midnite Vultures-era Beck, which is a nice juxtaposition that fits the stylistic themes from the time period Adrian Belew was fronting KC. This serves as the perfect transition from the 80s and 90s Crimson compositions.
The only knock against the first disc of Recidivate, is the overabundance of prog, which the listener should be prepared for. Many of the tracks are too difficult to pick apart from one another. There are certainly standouts, as mentioned (namely the tracks from Stick Men, Tuner, and California Guitar Trio), but some are just too hard to differentiate and others are just plain strange (see the properly titled “Makes No Sense At All” by French pop artist Peter Kingsberry). However, the Porcupine Tree/Opeth-esque closer to this disc, “Abandoner,” is certainly not to be missed. It’s a beautiful extension of prog done more accessibly for the casual listener. Wilson has a wonderful way of making prog easy to grasp without being too lame for the long-time fan, and once again achieves success with Mastelotto.
If you thought disc one was crazy, wait until you get a load of the second disc! It begins with a down-tempo piece, “Adamantine.” The first two minutes feature a short clicking loop that makes way towards a DJ Shadow-esque rhythm and bass section. This track is followed by “Fandogogo Zone,” which is a live studio mash-up featuring Iranian vocalist Azam Ali singing melodies over top of a fusion mash-up of eastern and western percussion, also featuring the services of former Eels member Jonathan “Butch” Nelson.
There’s yet another remix of Steven Wilson’s “Abandoner”, albeit this time it has very late-era Radiohead and Thom Yorke percussion behind it. This remix on the second disc seems more interesting and hearing this re-imagined a second time is nice, but perhaps unnecessary.
Once again, the Stick Men track stands out as being one of the best on the disc. You can hear Mastelotto own the kit (although chopped up on this disc) with some great melodies and vibes delivered by Stick Men. Another solid standout.
The end of the disc features a few tracks with King Crimson pals, but surprisingly, one of the best gems is the highly technical (but brooding) “Hush,” featuring instrumentation from Austin garage-pop band Mastica and cellos/clarinets from Gumby & Monkey. Tracks like these stand out after hearing tons and tons of prog by evoking an entirely different feeling. The song is not trying to be too obtuse, and being that this is a double-disc monster, tracks like these create a nice break before you get back to the off-the-handle performances from Pat and his collaborators.
There’s also the very Drum-n-bass “Cracker Barrel” and the accessible, semi-ambient “Ex Uno Plures,” that aids the listener as he or she digests this disc. “The Use of Black” certainly ramps up the technicality again with poly-rhythms and dissonance, but it’s not as jarring as some of the other tracks on this second LP.
There’s a lot of great music to be found on these two discs from Mastelotto with the one main drawback being that these standouts are buried within music that comes off as being technical for the sake of being technical. Make no mistake, the gems found here are absolutely worth your while. When the focus is on the songwriting, as opposed to, blowing people out of the water, Recidivate excels. For long-time fans of prog, this is an essential purchase. However, if you’re more of a casual prog fan, tread carefully; there’s a lot to wade through to find the hidden treasures. But once you do find these jewels, you’ll see that Recidivate is truly worth its weight in gold.
Review by Adam Rauf
Full 42-Song Album Stream of Pat Mastelotto Recidivate Courtesy of 7Media
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