Guitarist Robert Quine has claimed that Painted Desert is his session, but it wasn't released as such "because of legalities." Ikue Mori, under whose name this album was released, views it more as a meeting between Quine and herself that was directed by producer John Zorn. Either way, Painted Desert is a stunning work of guitar and drum machine/sampler trios. Mori recorded her parts, which rely primarily on tom tom and cymbal sounds, and then gave the tapes to Quine and Marc Ribot, who improvised guitar parts. The music sometimes sounds as if the guitarists decided to record a Ennio Morricone tribute. This isn't a Big Gundown-style album, however. Quine's guitar playing is very blues-influenced, while Ribot plays with unusual sedation, providing atmospheric shades of sound that occasionally recall Bill Frisell during his "volume pedal" period. The songs range from the mid-tempo title track (sounding like a spaghetti Western version of Miles Davis' Jack Johnson) to the abrasive "Gundown," which is reminiscent of DNA. Fans looking for an album that highlights Mori and her distinctive drum sounds will be disappointed with Painted Desert. Quine and Ribot enthusiasts, however, should be very pleased.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Murray Cizon