Music Pick of the Week

Gentleman Surfer

Reanimate One

Year of release: 2016

If Gentleman Surfer's 2013 avant-pop masterpiece Blaks was a fusion of Matt Patton and a deranged children's TV show, and last year's Gold Man showcased a plunge into prog-rock madness where standard song deconstruction was the methodology, then Reanimate One is what happens when things slow down.

Slowing down, of course, is not a pejorative; since vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jon Bafus, keyboardist Zach Bissell, guitarist Barry McDaniel, and bassist Drew Walker have simply placed a greater influence on melody, distorted guitar, and crackling bass this time around. The fully instrumental record still occupies the math-jazz-prog fusion genre; with complex rhythms, syncopated grooves, kitschy synths, and most crucially, some Les Claypool-esque knotty bass work dominating the proceedings. Reanimate One is also a looser and more refined affair than the band's past work; lurching forward with an insistent tension and control, it's off-kilter tendencies unspooling in spurts rather than as a frenetic explosion from the outset.

Tracks like "Don't Forget to Breathe", with its warped 50s sci-fi keyboard washes, rolling drum fills, and 16-bit heroes journey crescendo, and the ambient march of "Cloud College", are indicative of the album's relative restraint overall. Something like "Happy House", which comes off like a Hella-era Zach Hill jam session, is perhaps what fans may expect, but more intriguing are cuts like "Creep Dance"; with its swaying, sexy combination of detuned guitar chords, fairly straightforward drumming, and random analog glitches.

On the whole, Reanimate One reveals a less manic side of the band while still reveling in gonzo musicianship and oddball compositions. The emphasis on building tempo and momentum around groove and melody slowly means the album is densely rewarding upon multiple listens. It's also, of course, just as weird and uncompromising as one would expect from a band tirelessly bucking genre conventions.