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Krakatoa: We Are the Rowboats

As elcectic as any other band on the Cuneiform label, New York City's Krakatoa have once again managed to defy all categorization on their new release We Are Rowboats. While Krakatoa's music is clearly in the prog rock zone, they have a very fresh and modern sound while still drawing from influences ranging from Frank Zappa, King Crimson, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miriodor, and even John Zorn or Mr. Bungle. There's a certain "tug of war" going on throughout this CD's sixteen tracks, which helps keep the listener hooked at every moment.

Glendon Jones' violin passages really did it for me, especially on the quirky "Cat's Eye", a complex yet lovely little ditty that also contains some nice piano noodling from Val Opielski. "Snoopy with Mohawk" is one of the few vocal numbers, an engaging piece with electric mandolin from Jones, plus trippy loops and guitar effects from Ted Casterline. The band almost hits a Canterbury level on the jazzy and complex "Albatross to Betatron", featuring some intricate drum work from Ely Levin, and go for the stop-and-start zaniness on their cover of the classic "Sabre Dance." Fans of Boud Deun will like the simmering "Rotor Blade", a piece that really builds tension well and is highlighted by some romantic violin and cello work, plus some pretty intricate rhythms. Things get a bit heavy on the raging closer "Numbskull", a punk influenced rocker that also has some Mr. Bungle and King Crimson influences floating around, with fiery guitar and mandolin passages weaving around each other and smashing drums.

Interesting stuff here from Krakatoa-definitely not for every listener, but most certainly for someone who is into avant-garde music forms. There's enough intricate instrumentation here to satisfy most progressive rock fans, and the lovely violin work will no doubt draw in the jazz and fusion crowd. Krakatoa dares to be different, and manages to keep you on your toes at all times, and for that they need to be congratulated.

Added: December 18th 2003
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Cuneiform Records
Hits: 3064
Language: english

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