Bill Frisell Unspeakable

Unspeakable or "How Bill Frisell Got His Groove Back.” This is quite a change of pace for someone who had been redefining his own high lonesome sound for many years. Beyond the manic, modern cover art, one of the first things that jumps out is the credit to Hal Willner on turntables. The former bandleader on Saturday Night Live on freakin’ turntables? Everyone’s a DJ. However, this makes some sense as he pioneered the idea of the concept-driven tribute album. His interjections consist of everything from field recordings to snatches of classical and jazz. They add a lot of colour to this groove-oriented album. Frisell seems to be going for a contemporary version of the Cadet psychedelic jazz sound, or the Joel Dorn productions for Atlantic. The opener, "1968,” has a soul jazz melody rife with the augmentation of "trippy Chicago” production values. As one sweet pop melody with a beat goes by after another, the whole thing starts to sound rigidly orchestrated. The percussion percolates along, but with little variation. Frisell himself has regained some of the snarling tone that made him interesting in the first place, but he still sounds deliberate when a little wildness could elevate the proceedings. That’s why the pick of this set is the psychedelic "Old Sugar Bear,” with five minutes of swirling textures and rhythms building into an early U2 groove. (Nonesuch)