Crater is a project led by laptop artist jhno and drummer/electronician Scott Amendola, but judging from the lineup and sound of the group, you could easily approach it as the Nels Cline Singers plus jhno and guests. Proceed features two extended tracks recorded live on two separate occasions in August of 2002 and March of 2001. "On the Heal of the Devil" is in fact the Nels Cline Singers (Amendola, guitarist Cline, and bassist Devin Hoff) with jhno sitting in. The 40-minute piece is much slower to take off than your average Cline tune, but the textures developed by Amendola and jhno -- and Cline's answer to them -- provide ample ear candy to compensate. When it does take off, the quartet launches into a driving 21st-century version of post-Bitches Brew Miles Davis, with a slightly rockier edge. "Binaural Reciprocity" features jhno, Amendola, and Cline, along with bassist Todd Sickafoose and a second guitarist, Dave Mac Nab. This 38-minute monster is much groovier, the rhythm section locking in early, the guitarists trading fragmented melodies and effects, while the electronics (both computer and percussion-based) add a spacy feel reminiscent of top-grade Ozric Tentacles -- dub feel included. Despite its length, the piece is in constant evolution and is surprisingly low on self-indulgent content, considering its beat-driven mood and solo-prone form. Releases on c74 usually highlight the contribution of the computer (and the Max/MSP software Cycling '74 is famous for) to any given artist's music, but here the electronics play a resolutely background role, blending in with the guitars and rhythm sections to propose a new kind of avant-groove jazz. And the results are very convincing, if not for every pair of ears.
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