6/5/17 – Medeski, Martin & Wood “Uninvisible” (2002)

An album can be extremely personal without it being just a random find that you fall in love with. For me, Uninvisible is one of those albums. It was one of the many albums that my brother gave to me on a return trip from college, and that’s where my passion for musical exploration began. It’s an album that we both loved and bonded over, getting us to say to each other “Snake Anthony is not a small Japanese woman” like it made sense. Excluding the nostalgia, this album is still terrific, and it’s stood the test of time. Medeski, Martin & Wood blend Jazz, Hip-Hop, Funk, and Soul to make an interesting and groovy sound that seems to belong to several eras of music.

John Medeski, Billy Martin, and Chris Wood play the keyboards, drums, and bass respectively, but there are a number of guest musicians on this album. To start it off is the eponymous Uninvisible, with a number of brass musicians joining in with their echoing horns on this funky track. Your Name Is Snake Anthony is like a fever dream, with musician Bruce Hampton reciting a story that nearly makes sense. It’s an intensely quotable song, and the band lays an appropriately strange funk behind his reading. They mix it up with some scratching on Pappy Check, another big influence from Hip-Hop. I love the bass line on Take Me Nowhere, it’s as probably as dirty and in your face as it gets on the album.

Where Have You Been? starts off the second half of the double LP in a glorious drug induced trip. This album is also extremely psychedelic, despite only rarely using the electric guitar. Medeski’s keyboards take the place of the guitar, creating a trippy dialogue with their music. Nocturnal Transmission could be an instrumental Hip-Hop track with it’s focus on drum and bass. They change tempo halfway in to double or triple the speed, but add in some psychotic drums that give off a great disorienting feeling. Smoke is just the band at their best, along with I Wanna Ride You and Pappy Check. Each member of the group is just a master of their instrument, constantly impressing with their talent and imagination.

I really love the sampling on the closer Off The Table, starting off with some horror movie trope effects and then a ping pong game. The band plays their chilled out grooves behind it, and it’s one of the dreamiest songs on the album, completely smooth and strange. The more times I listen to this song the more it becomes my favorite on the album. Uninvisible is brilliant, and fans of any of the genres they draw inspiration from should give this a shot.

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