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Uninvisible (2002)

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Medeski, Martin & Wood

Uninvisible is further than ever from conventional jazz organ. While blues and funk influences are evident throughout the album, they float on a sea of shadows. Sound sources are obscure or exotic; on "Pappy Check" innovative scratching by turntablist DJ Olive creates an impression of African percussion more than club atmospherics. Even where the instrumentation is less ambiguous, the trio steers toward a filmic noir sensibility, with Medeski leading the way in unorthodox techniques. His pitch-bend solo on "Take Me Nowhere" suggests the creak of a rusty hinge, with Wood's acoustic bass providing the anchor for his abstractions. Wood is in fact often mixed higher than Medeski, to the effect of reducing the keyboard parts to a sideline role and the album in turn to an exercise in mood more than virtuosity -- an impression enhanced by a similarly eccentric shrinkage of the power guitar part on "The Edge of Night" to a barely audible background element. The rhythm is steady and stealthy, a slow-motion oscillation between live and looped tracks, most often with a hip-hop sensibility. More important, every musician on each cut plays with a belief that overplaying only subverts the goals of collective improvisation. If any one album can be said to pick up on the surreal funk explorations of latter-day Miles Davis, Uninvisible is it.