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  Spring Heel Jack with The Blue Series Continuum  
  Thirsty Ear  
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A few years back i purchased Busy Curious Thursty by Spring Heel Jack. That's a pretty good electronic album -- interesting beats and nice droning washes of sound. I was very interested to see that SHJ were participating in The Blue Series Continuum, which is apparently a series of Jazz meets Electronica albums. Sounded interesting.

The reality, sadly, is not very interesting. I was expected jazz songs cut up and re-pasted together. A flurry of wierd loops and strange beats. Instead Masses sounds like Spring Heel Jack stood in the studio with a jazz ensemble, and every once in a while would emit a sound from their laptop.

So this is a jazz album, and it's real stars are Tim Berne and Guillermo Brown. Their jazz vision drives this album. Spring Heel Jack are, well, they were there, in the studio, hanging out. I am still not sure why this "collaboration" was done. It accomplishes nothing. And why is "Spring Heel Jack" on the album cover? They don't really appear to have done too much here. I suppose that it's a marketing thing: Spring Heel Jack are "electronica", so it's cool and the kids will buy it. Jazz -- that's so old, who cares. Young kids don't buy jazz, only crusty old music geeks like me!

That said, it's not even good jazz. Berne, Brown, and the rest of their ensemble rarely really let loose. The songs are short, almost stunted, as if they were never fully finished. Almost, just almost, as if Berne, et al. expected Spring Heel Jack to take the tapes and "remix" the recordings. With some looping and some layering, this could have been really neat!

Instead, it's an unfinished work. Most of the tracks go nowhere and do nothing. The only remarkable portion of the album starts with the painfully short Interlude 1, wherein ambient washes are joined with Roy Campbell's delightful trumpet. This piece flows into Masses, where for five and a half glorious minutes Berne, Campbell, and Brown actually let loose and play.

Alas, that's it. No more. The rest of the album never comes together as either jazz or electronica. And when i am done, i am torn between going and putting on some Coltrane or some Autechre. Something complete, something that really finishes what it starts. Now that i think about it, Autechre remixing Jupiter Variations would be really cool.....

I am highly disappointed. This album had a lot of potential. The people involved could have created something of great beauty, had they really tried.

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