Electric Beethoven’s Hear No Evil is to the German composer as Circles around the Sun’s Interludes for the Dead is to the Grateful Dead. Each are collections of hybridized compositions-improvisations based on important songs in the inspirations’ respective songbooks and taken for walks in the proverbial woods.
The latest from Reed Mathis’ brainchild is 80-plus minutes of classical composition rearranged for rock ’n’ roll instrumentation with elements of trip-hop, reggae and jamband ethos tossed in via scratching, horns and synths accompanying the more traditional guitar, bass, drums and keys.
Written in the 19th century, rearranged in the 21st and recorded pre-quarantine with remixes and re-rearrangements done later, the LP features the core band with guests that include Karl Denson, Sidecar Tommy, Tae Meyulks, Michal Menert and members of RAQ, String Cheese Incident and others.
The melodies are familiar even to casual listeners as Mathis and company use well-known compositions such as “Für Elise,” the Fifth and Seventh symphonies, Piano Sonata No. 8 and “Moonlight Sonata” as springboards to new, still-instrumental sound collages that weave centuries-old themes inside the contemporary music they inspired.
The band wisely never breaches the 10-minute mark–and often leaves tracks to clock in in the four-to six-minute rage–ensuring the players never get too fancy for their, or their listeners’, own good. Hear No Evil could just as easily be titled, or at least described, as hear no filler.