Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 18:02
CD Title: Behind the Barber
Label: Silber Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Rollerball is an unusual band with a unique sound that's hard to pin down. Blending elements of free-jazz, funk, trip-hop, ambient, and Latin music wrapped in a heavily layered and experimental package, Behind the Barber, Rollerball's tenth album, is an intriguing listen. Actually, it's hard not to be intrigued by an album where the instrument credits range from horns to sitar to sharp metal. Often melodic and dissonant at the same time, Behind the Barber is a psychedelic blend of the coherent and the abstract, a meeting point between organic and electronic where little is predictable.
I think it's fairly obvious from my description of the album's sound that the 11 tracks found here have a fairly large stylistic range. While the band is obviously rooted in experimentation and improvisation, the album finds cohesion in more straightforward, concrete offerings like the reverb drenched dub jam and smooth female vocals of "Starling (Aleph Dub)" and the almost erotic, somewhat PJ Harvey-esque female vocals and repetitive droning accordion of "Chi Town Club". Other tracks like "Do the Slim Jim" and the ambient processed sounds and sparse melodic content of "Autotelic" counter the album's more mainstream offerings by diving headfirst into more abstract experimental jam territory. Most of the disc's other tracks fall somewhere in between or bounce back and forth. For instance, "Slits Arandas" is a 16 minute piece with sporadic improvised jams held together by a recurring Latin-infused smoky late night club core. The album's more mainstream (and more easily digestible) tracks prove to be the most memorable at first for obvious reasons. However, repeated listening will allow the listener to absorb the album's more abstract side, proving the album to be a very solid as a whole.
While Behind the Barber is probably not for those that like their music straightforward and simple, listeners that like challenging albums and the subsequent rewards that come with such works will find this to be a release that's both unique and consistently excellent. It's a sometimes odd but always interesting slice of experimental/free-jazz/ambient/dub psychedelia that will likely make a big impression on those adventurous enough to give it a listen.
Silber Records: www.silbermedia.com