W.T. Fits

Fits' Greatest (1998-2000)

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The subtitle of this epic is Multi-track Improvisations, Vol. 1, and that should provide a pretty solid clue where this particular train is heading. "Multi-tracking" is, of course, to weirdos fooling around with tape recorders what "flippers" are to pinball players or scuba divers. As far as improvising is concerned, most players from the discipline of avant-garde improvisation look down their squeaking noses at multi-tracking, as if it were some kind of cheat or way of rectifying a previously bad situation. Even in the world of mainstream jazz, multi-tracking is seen as mostly a way of making a jazz album sound like a disco album. But, back to the realm of weirdos fooling around with tape recorders: This is where multi-tracking can be a real art form, as well as the means to a type of composition that can be extremely appealing. The energy force that lies within most improv events with any kind of momentum can often take a few coats of extra shellac from overdubbed events without really losing the original sheen. That's what often happens here, although sometimes the noodle-happy Pink Bob and his accomplice Matt Seniff pile the cheesy keyboards too high, coming up with something like the meeting of two versions of Emerson, Lake & Palmer in opposing universes. At other times, the partners' sense of drama results in tremendously suspenseful unfoldings of musical events with the benefit of subtle shadings, touch-ups, and sometimes even blast-punches phoned in from the world of overdubbing. Lots of different instruments are incorporated, sometimes for no apparent reason and, at other times, with a logic that seems uncanny. W.T. Fits is an acronym for an often-asked and not often enough censored question about unusual music. These artists are more often heard from under the name of the Sediments or the Dits. In the W.T. Fits concept, the often wandering and expansive music of these other groupings -- face it, any group that releases a whole series of double-CD sets has to be considered wandering and expansive -- into a more concise set of pieces, many of them grafted with short and snappy titles. Most brilliant of all is the recorded sound -- one thing these fellows seems to have picked up in their many evenings of extended jamming and taping is the knack of getting a full, clean, and undistorted sound out of everything from a 14 dollar chord organ to a Sousaphone. "Nutrients" is a real favorite, featuring ominous deep and dark electric sounds, some slightly warmer keyboard putters, and a head-cleaning ease with which silences are incorporated.