MARC RIBOT'S CERAMIC DOG, "Party Intellectuals"
Marc Ribot has been an active member of the NYC experimental music scene for years, lending his oddly shaped and often delirious guitar work to everyone from Tom Waits and Elvis Costello to the LoungeMarc Ribot has been an active member of the NYC experimental music scene for years, lending his oddly shaped and often delirious guitar work to everyone from Tom Waits and Elvis Costello to the Lounge Lizards and Medeski, Martin and Wood. In his latest iteration, Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog, the guitarist is joined by downtown vets Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Ches Smith on drums.
A chaotic, fuzzy cover of the Doors classic "Break on Through" opens the album, signaling a roughly hewn assortment of songs to follow. The title track features an appealingly punchy-yet-elastic rhythm combination from Ismaily and Smith, but Ribot buries it under a wall of increasingly obnoxious blips. The hushed, lo-fi calm of "When We Were Young and We Were Freaks" brings a welcome respite, and the spoken-word vocals bear more than a passing resemblance to the softer work of Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker lead singer David Lowery.
"Todo el Mundo es Kitsch," a laid-back, tongue-in-cheek jaunt with overlaid male/female vocals, exudes a certain charm, and the bouncy, synth groove of "Pinch" is nicely complemented by the soft, bluesy guitar licks that flow underneath it. The longest track, "Digital Handshake," embodies both the strengths and weaknesses of the album.
While it demonstrates Ribot's talent for pulling ordered chaos from his guitar -- in some of his best moments, he recalls a late-'70s Jeff Beck -- the middle section devolves into an overlong, jagged, shrill indulgence. "Party Intellectuals" contains enough noise and/or dead space to ruin the flow of many an iPod shuffle, but experimental jazz or avant-garde fans should find enough here to sink their teeth into. – Eric Liebetrau