The Bellwether Project – Slang

Terminus Records 0102-2

Slang is a collaboration between Widespread Panic bassist David Schools and
electronic musician Layng Martine III. "the Bellwether Project" will likely
come as somewhat of a surprise to Spreadheads because much of the disc lives
firmly in the trip-hop realm.

As much as it's a credit to Schools' diversity, the project is also somewhat
of a letdown. More than half of the disc's 10 tracks sound like no more than
song ideas at the infancy or demo stage. There are some solid riffs/beats
throughout the disc but rarely does a single theme create a song that stands on its
own. Schools and Martine have no trouble establishing mood – the disc does that
quite well – but too often get stuck on one that elicits a trance-like numbness.

Schools' playing drives much of the material (and his playing is far less
busy than in Panic) and Martine, who contributes frequently to Bill Laswell's
discs and whose father wrote songs for Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, is chock full of
electronic ideas but just about every tune cries for additional ideas and
musicianship. And sometimes they get it. When Pete Droge adds his scattered
guitar work to a handful of tunes (Bell-O-Matic and Third Ear
most notably), things fare better. Little Bird, arguably the best tune of the set,
features singer Lori Carson.

If these ideas were developed more, Slang would fare better. But as it stands, "the
Bellwether Project" provides little more than a pleasant aural environment.