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Thumbscrew: Multicolored Midnight

Thumbscrew is an All-Star Collective Jazz Trio featuring Michael Formanek on Double Bass and Electronics, Mary Halvorson on guitars, and Tomas Fujiwara on Drums and Vibraphone, and Multicolored Midnight is their seventh studio album, an experimental jazz trip where the ensemble showcases their various musical resources.

The album has its picks and valleys, some of the tracks are more energetic than others, some more experimental than others, and some more listenable than others, but I find most of the album to be boring and not going anywhere.

“I’m a Senator” has a cool rhythmic groove to it with unique bluesy guitar licks, a smart choice for the album opener. “Son for Mr. Humphries” feels like a freestyle jazz jamming and a little disorganized, still somehow appealing but too eclectic and meaningless for my taste. “Survival Fetish” has an underlying hooky melody beneath the experimental jazzy blues, rhythmically dispersed but almost achieving the so desired goal of maintaining the listener’s attention. “Shit Changes” enters a trippy space jazz territory, a place totally out of my comfort zone… however I must admit, not that bad… little boring at first but quite jumpy towards the end… perhaps the double bass?... yeah, that might be it!

“Fidjety” I just don’t get, the instruments didn’t need more twists to their sounds, even less some added sound effects, this track I skip. The title track “Multicolored Midnight” brings us back to the cool groove and cohesive instrumentation, I still like those unique-sounding guitar licks and they are starting to feel like a footprint for the trio’s music. “Future Reruns and Nostalgia” has very interesting and different sounds, sometimes a little too atmospheric so is difficult for me to keep me latched to it, it reminds me of the hypnotic but also repeatable sound of electronic acts such as FSOL, and it’s also too long.

“Capsicum Annuum” (variety of peppers, sweet and hot) is my favorite track of the album, I feel a tight structure with very attractive melodies and great instrumentation by the three members of the ensemble, one that I would easily include in my jazz music playlist… it does have its chaotic moment, but it doesn’t affect the track in a negative way. “Swirling Lives” is another track I don’t like much, it starts with a nice intricate playing between guitars and vibraphone but then it flows into that same frantic playing style that feels disoriented and distracts me from the listening experience. “Should Be Cool” follows in the same mischievous patter as the previous track, I think that the trio’s need to include new sounds and more complex interplaying unfortunately takes their music to places not so digestible and enjoyable, too experimental, and crooked. “Brutality and Beauty” closes the album, and the way they say farewell to the listener is the same as thy greeted them, catchy jazzy movements with beautifully entangled guitars and double bass, playful and accurate drumming, this time adding more electronic sounds than on any previous track, providing a sense of both despair and great musicianship. I like my jazz classic and less experimental, so my review and final rate are those of my personal taste… the talent is there as is the formidable instrumentation, but the overall experience of this album is just not for me.

Track Listing

  1. I’m a Senator (4:41)
  2. Song for Mr. Humphries (4:40)
  3. Survival Fetish (5:33)
  4. Shit Changes (5:13)
  5. Fidgety (6:49)
  6. Multicolored Midnight (4:24)
  7. Future Returns and Nostalgia (8:24)
  8. Capsicum Annuum (4:49)
  9. Swirling Lives (8:12)
  10. Should Be Cool (5:19)
  11. Brutality and Beauty (4:18)

Added: September 10th 2022
Reviewer: Jose Antonio Marmol
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 295
Language: english

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