Kurt Wagner and his many and various compatriots in Lambchop have earned a well-deserved reputation as artists willing to take a chance and bend even their own self-imposed rules, but Wagner takes his music into a place most of his fans probably never expected on this EP. Hands off Cuba are a two-man electronic ensemble comprised of Ryan Norris and Scott Martin; like Wagner, they're musical renegades in Nashville, a city not always friendly to the sonically adventurous, and Wagner asked them if they'd be willing to team up for a recording project. For CoLAB, Hands off Cuba participated in the arrangement and recording of a new Lambchop tune, "Prepared," and then took elements from the sessions (and other Lambchop material) and fashioned them into three new pieces. "Prepared" is a simple but lovely song that wouldn't be out of place on Is a Woman, but the other three cuts are a different kettle of fish, with Norris and Martin doing a fairly radical slice-and-splice number on Wagner's music, fashioning new melodic structures from the pieces, adding a variety of beats and sound effects, and processing organic musical sounds into otherworldly soundscapes. Which is say those who embraced the more melodic and traditionalist aspects of Lambchop's music are going to be mighty confused by this, but if one looks into Hands off Cuba's revisions, you can still sense the mood and flavor of Wagner's style, even if it has been twisted into a challenging new shape. Given Kurt Wagner's recent participation with the dance act X-Press 2, it's hard to say if CoLAB is a one-off experiment or a step into a new electronic dimension for Lambchop, but either way it confirms this is one group that's not about to stop looking for new territory, and doing something worth hearing wherever they stop.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming