Not to be stereotyping, but would most people expect an album combining trip-hop, downtempo/chill-out, and jazz to emanate from Nashville, Tennessee? Yet that's where the duo known as sub-ID hail from — Alana Rocklin, who plays bass with Nanci Griffith, and her husband Brad Bowden, who's done production work for country singer Suzy Bogguss and bluegrass/jazz fusion banjo wizard Bela Fleck.
Their debut disc betrays little impact from their "day jobs" — BFF is a mélange where limpid beats, lush and layered electronically generated sounds, jittery jungle/drum 'n' bass tumult, and sampled voices genially clash with aspects of jazz improvisation. While it's indeed a pleasant enough listen, the sounds of electronica and jazz groove alongside each other without ever really coalescing. Which isn't to imply BFF is not good — there are some very imaginative textures throughout, nice rhythmic collages to zone-out to. But on the feverish, seething "Th Return," shimmering keyboard sounds distantly echo those on Miles Davis' epochal Bitches Brew, the cadences eerily rumble and boil instead of the usual crackle and pop, and a woman's disembodied vocal sigh is both comforting and disconcerting.
That segues into the panoramic "Dips," the female vocals insinuating Middle Eastern/North African scales, the groove resembling sleek, earthy early-1970s futuristic funk (think electric Herbie Hancock, Les McCann, and War). Why not a whole disc like that? (1320 Records)
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