Love him or hate him, Mike Patton has very eclectic taste in music, and he's putting his money where his mouth is with the Ipecac label. Earlier in 2004, he had licensed Eyvind Kang's beautiful Virginal Co Ordinates from the Italian I Dischi di Angelica label, now he turns to Belgium (!) to give wider exposure to the Flat Earth Society, a progressive big band formed from two defunct Belgian groups, X-Legged Sally and Fukkeduk. The resulting album, Isms, draws from their four prior releases and presents a band capable of everything from beautiful chamber jazz miniatures to slinky crime-theme jazz noir to driving rock rhythms. The shorter pieces tend to be cues from their Minoes soundtrack album, and often serve as interludes between longer pieces. As mentioned, several of the tracks ("O.P.E.N.E.R.," "Zonk," "De Zoekactie") could have been put to good use the theme for some crime drama. "Pune" sounds something like an Asian brass band with crazed galloping percussion and a manic kazoo solo that sounds something like Rahsaan Roland Kirk playing kazoo instead of flute. "Funeral & Binche" starts out like New Orleans funeral music, then shifts gears and becomes quite exuberant. "Ellemeet en de Katten" is a short but menacing piece that contrasts nicely with the moody, nocturnal bass, Rhodes, and vibes of "Tibbe Hoort Iets." The songs are all very approachable, but there's plenty of punch in the playing and soloing and great detailed arrangements. Fans of progressive jazz orchestras and big bands like Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra, Sun Ra, and even Frank Zappa should find a lot to enjoy here.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard