Recordings

-- Victor Haseman

Green Room
Live Trajectories
(Leo Lab)

You know you're in for a scary ride when a liner-note writer uses euphemisms like "mature," "intelligent," or (gasp!) "compelling" in a ploy to convince you of a band's awesomeness. So it goes on Live Trajectories, the sophomoric lunge toward improv magic by Scottish trio Green Room.

"Mature": Ten years ago, David Baird (bass), Chick Lyall (piano), and David Garrett (drums) wanted to restructure their jazz combo with an unconventional format. So they followed the path of many foiled wannabes toward the more easily manipulated realm of electronics. Garrett hot-wired a piano frame and a dulcimer, Lyall invested thousands of pounds in synthesizers, and Baird exchanged his standard four-string for a Chapman Stick, a lightweight guitar-bass hybrid that's all neck (no head, little body). Given the public indifference toward their growth into an X-Files house band (so ahead of their time as to predate the TV show), Green Room tooled away in a Glasgow garage for nearly a decade.

"Intelligent": This live recording is so clever, by the halfway point it's almost as if you're not listening to music at all. The spooky synthetic noodling blends so well into the background it almost disappears, or rather, you come to feel that it's always been there, like the posters in your room. Then, when the disc plays out, you snap to and realize the wallpaper's been acting up again.

"Compelling": Live Trajectories could drive you to shoot dope, drop hits, or gulp a handful of ludes before a whirlwind evening of stare-at-the-black-light.

Only adult listeners who have indulged (perhaps surreptitiously) in the smart songs of ELP, King Crimson, or Zappa's synclavier ventures will be able to handle the grand ambience of Green Room. OK, so maybe their orchestration of synthesized sounds is not quite magical. But if you're hot on the mature, intelligent use of electronics, you won't find a more compelling group in contemporary improv. At least not from Scotland, anyway.

-- Sam Prestianni

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