Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Rocket Science" still comes natrually to Flecktones

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - "Rocket Science"
Entertainment One Music
-out now
3.5 / 5

After an excruciating, nearly twenty-year hiatus, self-described blu-bop quartet the Flecktones have released another space-themed dozen tracks, seemingly from out of that same inky nowhere. For those stranded under a rock these past few decades, the best way to describe the Flecktones may well be this: add one part world-renowned banjo master (Mr. Fleck), one part bass virtuoso (Victor Wooten, ever happy to hear), harmonica and crazy futuristic drummer, and shake together with a tinge of world/jazz/bluegrass fusion; the result is one of the lightest, most talented groups you're likely to find outside of Corea's Return to Forever. We should probably mention Chick has toured with Bela, right? In any case, "Rocket Science" isn't as complicated as it sounds, and that may be due to the Flecktones' natural ability to present technically complex phrases without the look-what-I-can-do pretension. Fleck-heads will get their (space) rocks off here, but our one regret is that these tracks don't seem as if they're challenging the foursome. Take our favorite albums, "Live at the Quick" and "Outbound," which craft stupendous, melodic tracks: those albums showcase the self-same top-notch musicians foraying out of their comfort zone into poppier material. We've also heard "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo" is another fan favorite, and our main quip is that as good as "Rocket Science" is, we find it tough that someone might single this one out as their best. But it's still excellent, it's still Bela, and still comes recommended.

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