BadBadNotGood

Talk Memory

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Talk Memory Review

by Paul Simpson

BadBadNotGood's fifth studio full-length, and first without founding keyboardist Matthew Tavares, was largely composed from studio improvisations, rather than developed on tour like their previous albums. Going back to the band's instrumental roots, the record doesn't overtly incorporate hip-hop and R&B influences the way their previous best-known works did. The group stress the importance of collective harmony this time around, even as they welcome contributions from guest musicians. The album opens with "Signal from the Noise," a nine-minute epic co-produced by Floating Points. After a drawn-out, slightly ominous intro, the trio launch into a riveting, fuzz guitar-heavy midsection that recalls vintage '70s fusion more than anything else the band have attempted before. As the song cools down, tape effects cause the instruments (particularly Leland Whitty's saxophone) to fragment and disintegrate. Laraaji's electric zither floats around the fluttering saxophones during the gentle "Unfolding (Momentum 73)," as the drums gradually pick up and give the rhythm a bit more of a stride for a moment. Several tracks feature grand string arrangements by Brazilian legend Arthur Verocai, who elevates the atmosphere without distracting from the band's performances. Karriem Riggins adds an extra layer of clicky percussion to "Besides April," though it's the guitar soloing and glistening organ that leave the biggest impression. "Open Channels" is a much freer, more detached piece that feels like a momentary detour into the subconscious. "Timid, Intimidating" is a return to the fusion feel of the first song, with introspective melodies as well as truly dexterous soloing. The final song, "Talk Meaning," features alto saxophonist Terrace Martin and harpist Brandee Younger, as well as Verocai's strings. It seems a bit more tense and rhythmically tricky than some of the other tracks, yet the harmonious arrangements help it all flow smoothly. Throughout the album, BadBadNotGood and their guest collaborators flesh out the sonic canvas without taking away from the raw energy of the performances.

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