Kinda contemporary, kinda free/avant garde, kind of a serious melting pot of styles often defying classification in many ways, Reptet has released its third album, Chicken or Beef? Interesting title. Even more interesting is the music and its direction.
There are clear times when thick, often pronouncedly powerful, bass lines help this elusive project coalesce and take form, along with some very active horn work. This is not always the stuff you’ve been used to hearing when you think of contemporary or even acid jazz. You do expect some of its elements in free jazz, with which more of this than not readily identifies, in my opinion. Parts, like "Reptet Score!" begin deceivingly moderate and modest and then morph into loud and frenzied pieces. Other parts are more (well, somewhat more) traditional and tame, like the cleverly-timed "EltiT." The title tune was definitely one I couldn’t get my head around, no matter how many times I listened. Maybe on a good note, there was simply too much energy. By contrast, however, the melody was sorely lacking, as was the melody on the tune immediately following it, "That’s Chicken or Beef." The latter began with a strange resemblance to the old Roger Miller classic, "King of the Road," then decided to go "someplace else."
There’s a lot of "diversity" in style here, for certain. Examples would be the slower-paced, rather soulful piece, if I dare, titled "Gwand Wabbit" and the odd "Fish Market," which begins in a frenzied Molly Hatchet-style fast pace, complete with chatter about going to the fish market. It too then ventures off (I suppose in the direction of the fish market), leaving me to scratch my puzzled head.
Instrumentally, these guys have talent. There’s no disputing that. How they’ve utilized it here is another story. Maybe I haven’t completely embraced free jazz yet, but unfortunately this project doesn’t help.