Greg Ginn & the Taylor Texas Corrugators / Greg Ginn

Gumbo and Holy Water

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    6
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One of the crucial factors of a jam band is the creative interplay among the musicians, which points to one of the fundamental flaws that hobbles Gumbo and Holy Water from Greg Ginn & the Taylor Texas Corrugators. The once and future Black Flag leader is clearly a fan of the jam band ethos, but the musician he does the most jamming with on this album is himself -- Ginn overdubs bass and keyboards on these sessions as well as handling lead guitar, while Gary Piazza adds more guitar and Dominic Feedam plays the drums. The bass and organ often overpower the guitars in the mix, which means Ginn the producer has put Ginn the accompanist front and center on his own album, and frankly his skills on these instruments run a distant second to his talents as a guitarist, even on an album such as this that doesn't put his six-string work in the most flattering light. The performances on Gumbo and Holy Water are often sloppy, with a leaden feel that's clunky and distinctly uncomfortable as the rhythm section struggles to find a common path and the keyboards wheeze while the guitars meander in the distance. Ginn also seems attracted to the free improvisational nature of jamming, but he hasn't constructed compelling melodic frameworks as a jumping-off point, and much of the time these songs, such as they are, simply shuffle about in circles until they get tired and stop in their tracks. Though some Black Flag fans might be put off by the stoned restlessness and lack of focus in this music, even devotees of the grand-scale guitar workout are likely to be disappointed by the imprecise technique and unambitious soloing documented here; whatever gifts Ginn may possess as an instrumentalist, songwriter, or bandleader are all but indistinguishable on Gumbo and Holy Water, which doesn't even qualify as a failure of ambition.

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