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King Chubby: Is

One of two of these names sound familiar, but I can't place them. Five players, ten songs and seventy-five minutes of music on the debut by King Chubby. Wire my mouth shut if you must, but I have to say I can't get the image of Ron Jeremy's mug out of my head whenever I see the band's name yesterday I caught a few episodes of The Surreal Life to see what all the hoopla was about. Anyway, let's avoid yappin' about the hedgehog and begin on what is Is. In addition to the keyboards, bass, and drums of (respectively) Ed Bialek, Mark Egan, and Michael D'Agostino, we have a master flautist in Robert Dick and an additional percussionist in Will Ryan. Ryan also plays a berimbau, and as I don't know what a berimbau is, let me look it up: a single steel-stringed bow, and the lead instrument that "dictates the rhythm" in the Brazilian dance/martial art~hybrid style of capoeira. There are three types of berimbau, so we can assume Ryan uses all three.

On a whole, Is bangs its drum loudly or softly, but never abandons its blissful streak. Murky synth structures and the organic strains of a flute (four different kinds) and piccolo ensure this. Egan's bass is never loud enough, however. You can hear these enticing bass licks in "Nahvay," for example, but they're a bit distant. The drums, on the other hand, sound just fine (not tinny) with the right amount of 'verb. The ethnically-tinged jazz-rock by this group is always very loose but doesn't meander it finds its own voice, rather, somewhat like the music on Herbie Hancock's Sextant, while sounding nothing like that album. "Turn It On" is a suitable starting point with the centrifugal energy it generates by whipping the members' sounds into shape in the key of rock. D'Agostino's drumming will be a hit with many; one of his best performances is on "Rock Sand," wherein he supplies the propulsion and everyone else reconnects the circuitry. Adversely, "Microgrand" echoes the soothing strains of Emerald Web-plus-drums (Emerald Web had two flute players, too) with its stream-of-consciousness progression not too unlike Shadowfax, either. This may be my favorite track! "Green Monk" makes do with a swirling bed of electronics and cymballic accents not unlike Djam Karet circa Suspension & Displacement. Even more similar (with exception to the flute, of course) is the spatial plateau covered on the freely flowing ode to "Swaha."

Is will float the boat of many a world music fan, and it won't alienate those who prefer their brew a little more ambient. Definitely worth checking out.


1. Turn It On 8:25
2. Short Summer 7:45
3. Wandering Angus 8:34
4. Microgrand 12:12
5. Who's Afraid Of Retrograde 5:10
6. Nahvay 8:51
7. Rock Sand 6:08
8. Green Monk 5:55
9. Awaken 5:36
10. Swaha 8:09

Total time 74:30

Added: September 6th 2004
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Related Link: King Chubby Dot Com
Hits: 2452
Language: english

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