Royal Potato Family
Only these four musicians—in their perfect storm of cosmic improv energy—could manage to make dark industrial jazz sound lighthearted (“Rescue Spreaders”) and conjure perfectly danceable freakout swing (“Fragile”), and that’s just the first two tracks of Power Patriot. From there it’s “Dory’s Day Out,” with its smooth and slinky vibraphone-driven explorations, and the spacey and ocassionally dark “Electric Doorbell Machine.”
On the absolutely killer title track, guest Marco Benevento’s distorted keys and drummer Stanton Moore’s explosive drumming are the perfect foil to Skerik’s wailing saxsanity. “Dugout” is straight-ahead jazz for the majority, with Benevento laying down a scorching solo as Moore loses his mind on the drums for a bit before they all wind back to the original theme. “Fat Redneck Gangster” is every bit as dirty and mean as it should be with a name like that, and if you close your eyes you can easily imagine some sort of pimp version of Boss Hawg stalking the streets of Birmingham, chaw-spit dribbling out of the corner of his mouth.
Skerik brings some of his trademark heaviness to much of the album, always a welcome occurrence, especially on tracks like “Purgatory” which starts off very eerie and atmospheric then becomes unrelentingly sinister, with drums that would easily sound right at home in a High On Fire song. “Germs” is a moody adventure, and “Computer Crimes” a hypnotic romp with Skerik’s stuttering sax and Dillon’s vibes spinning you into a trance before the really dreamy and freaky stuff comes in.
This version of the group subs out Charlie Hunter for Marco Benevento, which does give them a fairly different sound from what fans of the original incarnation might be expecting. That being said, they are still every bit as innovative and virtuostic as they always have been, and are very much worth a listen for anyone who is a fan of these musicians individually. These guys may make much of their living in the jamband sphere, but make no bones about it, these are four new school jazz artists with truly progressive musical ideas and the powerful chops to back them up.