The Siamese Stepbrothers

The Siamese Stepbrothers

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The Siamese Stepbrothers were kind of a one-off Californian mini-super group formed around the talents of Henry Kaiser, Bruce Anderson, and occasional Grateful Dead collaborator Tom Constanten. The music is stylistically variegated, with roots generally in rock but branching out into avant-jazz, contemporary classical, and world influences (much like Kaiser's own music). To this end, they perform covers of Sonny Sharrock, late-period Miles Davis ("Agharta Prelude"), and Scriabin. A couple of the pieces are group improvisations that, unfortunately, find themselves oddly positioned between jazz-rock fusion and academic classicism -- not the most fruitful of mixes. Indeed, that type of misconstructed amalgam is one of the frustrating things about this disc, as when, in the second part of the Sharrock piece, Kaiser's nicely raunchy guitar is set alongside piano playing that sounds straight out of Bruce Hornsby -- somewhere between postmodern contrast and cluelessness, one feels. Much of the rest of the album has the meandering quality of musicians attempting free improvisation who aren't quite up to the task. The rhythm section in particular, with drummer Lukas Ligeti all too often sounding like a lost-at-sea John French (there's a noticeable Beefheart vibe on several pieces here), drags down the proceedings. Kaiser is heard to much better advantage on any number of other recordings, making The Siamese Stepbrothers one for completists only.

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