Not all bands have a unified vision and that's not necessarily bad. Different influences thrown into the mix can result in interesting and novel music. Such is the result of this CD from the DJ Williams Projekt, a diverse five-man group that mixes together a variety of talents, styles, instruments and abilities. In addition, several other guest players join in, further adding to the eclectic result.
Bandleader DJ Williams is the main guitarist, and his funky, groovy guitar playing is perhaps the music's strongest point. But this was clearly a community effort. All the cuts are good, but seem so different from each other that the album is almost a sampler. Along with straight-up bebop there is reggae, R&B, vocal workouts and long-form noodling. All of it works fine on its own terms; it is the kind of CD where different listeners will enjoy different tracks.
Probably in the interest of "keeping it real," the CD was recorded live in one room and only lightly edited. The intention was apparently to capture the raw energy of the studio, letting the listener hear the live performance as it happened. A good live club album from a touring band does that, of course, but this one is neither fish nor fowl. The energy is certainly good, but the CD often does sound like a demo disc. Among other things, the unnecessary studio chatter that opens the excellent third track, "Satisfaction," includes rough language that makes it unsuitable for family listening.
The writing of some tracks seems as weak as the production, essentially jamming on single grooves and lame lyrics. The grooves are good, though, and the musicians play well together.
Perhaps the best proof of how good the music is - and how much better this album might have been - is the final track, "Woman." The climax of the album, this cut finally glues together the various styles heard throughout the rest of the album. It ought to sound awful and yet it works. It seems to have been worked out with some care, resulting in a superb piece that proves that perhaps these songs do belong in the same room after all.
At the end of the day, we are left with a head-scratching album that cannot be defined, but can be enjoyed. The music is laid out like a buffet. You can take what you like and leave the rest. Music, like art, is sometimes simply there to get under your skin.