[Rating: 3 stars]
It’s impossibly to understand On Fillmore’s newest album, Extended Vacation, without knowledge of the two men behind the music. Comprising bassist Darin Gray and drummer Glen Kotche, the band’s latest album is a soothingly odd experiment in sound, a jazzy trip meant to be interpreted with the listener’s discretion.
Fans of Wilco will recognize Kotche as the innovative force behind the drums. Kotche normally approaches two or three pieces of his kit at a time; the musical approach to the rhythm section allows him to adapt to any style, any time, whether he’s playing for a solo project, a Wilco record or On Fillmore. Here, Kotche lets his experimental obsession (he’s known to use floor tiles, shotgun pellets, ping pong balls and hubcaps to produce sound) flourish into head-spinning, spastic jazz.
Moving on down the spectrum is Darin Gray, whose stylish jazz licks can also be heard in Dazzling Killmen, Brise-Glace and on Jim O’Rourke’s solo ventures. Gray’s varied interests provide the perfect counterpoint to Kotche. The results stand alone on Extended Vacation, where classic jazz riffs mingle with singing birds and rustling trees.
Trying to understand the emotion and imagery of a jazz album is part of the fun – what might come across as beautiful noise to some may sound like a track of jumbled, muted tones to others. Extended Vacation is the mark of two musicians letting loose with an album full of passionate fun.