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Mastica is a trio consisting of drummer Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mr. Mister, XTC), bassist/cellist/singer Gum B. (Poi Dog Pondering, Alejandro Escovedo), and a young reed player and singer named Monkey (Baboon Orchestra). The combined pedigrees of these musicians might lead you to expect something deeply weird, and you'd be right, but it's all weird in the best way: challenging and unpredictable, yet never willfully difficult. Mastelotto's drumming combines textural invention with meat-and-potatoes beats, while Monkey's various reed instruments alternately twine through the mix and create layers of atmosphere within each arrangement. Gum B.'s contributions aren't always easily distinguishable from the electronic sounds and manipulated samples that are stacked floor-to-ceiling on each track, but occasionally (as on the untitled hidden track at program's end) his gutbucket bass takes front and center, and at other times his cello will suddenly become clearly audible in the mix. Highlight tracks include the complex and lovely "Crescent Moon" as well as "Prison," which is built around samples from an old Alan Lomax field recording. Highly recommended.

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