Alto saxophonist/composer Tim Berne ventures into the world of EFX thanks to keyboardist Craig Taborn's synth-based textures, ethereal soundscapes, and altogether curiously interesting interplay with the leader and his longtime musical affiliate, drummer Tom Rainey. Consisting of four lengthy pieces, Berne once again demonstrates his laudable chops and easily identifiable musical persona on this rather eclectic yet thoroughly spirited set. And while Berne's cutting-edge Paraphrase and Bloodcount bands do not utilize digital or analog electronic treatments, they seldom lack impact, resourcefulness, or high-octane-type methodologies. Here, Berne and Rainey go for the proverbial jugular amid Taborn's sound sculpting and contrasting mosaics of layered effects and subtle dynamics. Through it all, the band excels at constructing climactic themes via Berne's brazen attack and Rainey's multifunctional rhythmic developments while Taborn serves as the colorist. Basically, The Shell Game shines forth as a charismatic effort from a preeminent stylist who is willing to take risks.
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AllMusic Review by Glenn Astarita