Marc Ribot's second Shrek release showcases a live and onstage version of Ribot usually reserved only for those who live in the lower reaches of the 212 area code. This maddeningly eclectic release from the Wes Montgomery of the Downtown jazz scene is a continuation of his earlier self-titled Shrek release but features only two tracks from the first album: "Human Sacrifice," which receives preferential treatment on the studio release, and the evocative and powerful "Forthworld," the soundtrack for the post-Apocalyptic tribal drum circle feel of the album. In general however, this album is much of an improvement from the original, as the band members, featuring not only Ribot's virtuoso guitar work and New York-inflected vocals but alternately Chris Wood of Medeski, Martin, and Wood fame on guitar and bass, Sebastian Steinberg on bass, and Jim Pugliese and Dougie Bowne on percussion have meshed well together with greater exposure to each other and to the overall sound of the group. The band is still as transgressive and in your face as they want to be, but here Ribot shows his other sides as well, the sides that have earned him his keep as Zorn's right-hand guitar man in "Requiem for What's His Name," the side that has earned him a major-label deal with his remake of songs of the great Cuban bandleader Arsenio Rodriquez with "Jamon Con Yuca," as well as spots as a session player with rock legends Tom Waits and Elvis Costello with "The Wind Cries Mary." Shrek is, at its core, however, an avant-punk outfit, and they have lost none of their grittiness or edge with this release. Another highlight is the soulful "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise," a special treat from a someone who considers himself to be a soul musician. All in all, another fine effort from a virtuoso guitarist. Difficult listening, but worth the effort.
AllMusic Review by David Freedlander