Three-Layer Cake: Stove Top

Trio wearied by 'all that genre sh*t' convened remotely to lay down some plain old music, even if it contained inklings of funk, punk, free jazz and heavy rock


How to categorise this? Watt says: “I’ve really outgrown that genre sh*t. For me, music is music.” Fair enough, but for ease of reviewing I’ll just mention that there are elements of funk, punk, free jazz, the outer limits of heavy rock and, as Damon Runyon used to say, I do not know what all else.

For most pieces Pride recorded his drum tracks and forwarded them to Watt to add the bass parts. Pride then invited Seabrook to put the jam in the sponge (sorry!), often in the shape of fast-fingered, glittering, scampering banjo parts. Exceptions were Shepherds, which Seabrook initiated, and Gobsmacked, where Watt set down the first element.

Obviously this method, although quite proper during Covid lockdowns, precluded full three-way interaction, so on most tracks Seabrook got the last word. With the benefit of hearing what the others had done before he put the icing on the cake (sorry!!) whilst Pride, mostly starting with a blank sheet, laid down patterns and resonances which proved fruitful stimulations for the others’ additions.

I don’t know whether those adding the second and third layers allowed themselves second thoughts and/or editing when recording their layers. Whatever, the individual tunes and the album as a whole hang together very nicely. A couple of pieces have a minor feel but mostly the tracks are upbeat, with some having a strong bluesy or funky tang, and there are a number of captivating riffs. Irrespective of all that label / category / pigeon-hole / genre st*ff, I thoroughly enjoyed the album.

Beatified, Bedraggled And Bombed; Big Burner;A Durable Quest; Shepherds; Tiller; Primary Fuel; Luminous Range – Anxious Valve; Ballad Of The Gobsmacked (40.08)
Brandon Seabrook (g, bj, tapes); Mike Watt (elb); Mike Pride (d, glockenspiel, bells, org). New York, October – December 2020.
RareNoise RNR0128 (CD); RNR0128LP (green vinyl); multiple digital platforms