Words by Audra Tracy
There’s something that can be said about musicians who are obsessed with capturing that ‘perfect’ sound. Musicians who tire over their recordings, making sure every note, every cymbal crash, every guitar riff, is in its right place. But there’s also something to be said about a band with enough confidence to create an album on the fly, in front of a live audience.
Medeski, Martin & Wood – icons of the improvisational music scene, paired up with Nels Cline, guitarist of Chicago based rock band Wilco, and decided to see what happens when they eliminate musical boundaries and just let loose.
Recorded at Applehead Studios in Woodstock, New York in the summer of 2013, The Woodstock Sessions Vol. 2 is a testament to being too in the moment to care about making mistakes. It’s not supposed to be perfect – the flaws are part of its charm.
Wood’s juicy bass lines on track 2, ‘Bonjour Beze’, are what initially pull you in, but the further you get into this heavy jam, the more you start to notice how well balanced the exchange is between all players. Medeski and Cline seem to be dueling with distortion, while Martin’s tight syncopation keeps your toes tappin’ throughout.
At its most energetic peak, ‘Los Blank’ finds Cline really tearing it up, probably like nothing you would hear at a typical Wilco show. It’s brain-searing and so, so awesome. Another highlight, ‘Jade’, has this fluid movement that makes you feel like you could blast it on an infinite loop and still feel good.
I could keep gushing over this ‘live/studio hybrid’ album, but that would ruin the surprise when you listen to it, right? The whole point of the experience was that both the band and the audience didn’t know what was going to happen next. So, neither should you.
Just know that The Woodstock Sessions is an experiment in being human. It’s a living, breathing, flowing art exhibit that you’ll appreciate more and more upon each visit.
‘The Woodstock Sessions Vol. 2’
© April 22nd, 2014
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