Unspeakable

Unspeakable

by Bill Frisell
     
 

There’s just no telling what kind of music Bill Frisell is going to make with each new recording. Here, the “anti guitar hero,” as the brilliant stylist has been dubbed, collaborates with producer and sonic auteur Hal Willner. The result is a wild, wholly unexpected grab bag of a project that surprises as much as it satisfies. If there’s little in the way of elaborate…  See more details below

Overview

There’s just no telling what kind of music Bill Frisell is going to make with each new recording. Here, the “anti guitar hero,” as the brilliant stylist has been dubbed, collaborates with producer and sonic auteur Hal Willner. The result is a wild, wholly unexpected grab bag of a project that surprises as much as it satisfies. If there’s little in the way of elaborate guitar solos -- and certainly few of Frisell's customary jazz, country, or Americana influences arise -- there are beats and grooves and lots of funky licks that buzz around in your head. Frisell incorporates a small string section, plus brass players, percussion, and loads of guitar effects, to thicken the sound; Willner brings in left-field samples that further beef up the musical stew. The overall effect is dreamy, both lulling and unsettling yet always fascinating. In other words, Frisell has done it again.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sean Westergaard
With the exception of 2003's Intercontinentals, Bill Frisell had been playing it pretty safe for some time, sticking to his own personal vision of variations on the Americana theme (with nearly all of those albums being produced by Lee Townsend, by the way). Well, a change of producers often means a change of pace, and teaming up with eclectic producer Hal Willner for Unspeakable seems to have gotten the creative juices flowing again. Their working relationship goes back a long ways, all the way back to the Amarcord Nino Rota tribute from the early '80s. The use of a string section on more than three-fourths of the tunes already adds a different flavor to this album, but the fact that Frisell and Willner seem to have taken inspiration from the sounds of classic soul music is what really sets this apart from others in the Frisell catalog. Not only that, but Frisell's delays return in a more prominent role and he offers up some of his fiercest playing in years. There are a handful of introspective pieces that feature just the strings and guitar, with some slight sonic embellishments from Willner. The majority of the tunes, however, sound something like Bill Frisell scoring the music to Superfly! The soul grooves are tough to miss, but with this cast of players, it comes off like some cinematic offshoot of soul music. The grooves are fantastic, and Frisell really rises to the occasion, bringing back the delays, nasty distorted tone, and ugly harmonics that have been largely absent from his more recent releases. There are still lots of lovely sounds, but it's great to hear him stretching out a bit more again. Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen have not only served as Frisell's rhythm section in the past, but they also play together in Sex Mob. Sometimes aided by Don Alias, they really drive the tunes, with the strings and occasional horns punctuating the melody and Frisell's guitars floating all over the place. Willner's use of turntables and samplers adds some great sounds to the mix, sometimes adding an almost exotica flavor. It's all quite accessible, but fans with delicate ears may be put off by some of the noisier moments on the album, like the keyboard (?) sound on "Stringbean" or the guitar solo on "Old Sugar Bear." Other fans will be delighted to hear such a glorious din on a Bill Frisell record again. After so much of a similar thing, it's just great to hear Frisell being pushed in a new direction (and quite a fun one, at that). Recommended.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/24/2004
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597982824
catalogNumber:
79828

Tracks

  1. 1968
  2. White Fang
  3. Sundust
  4. Del Close
  5. Gregory C.
  6. Stringbean
  7. Hymn for Ginsberg
  8. Alias
  9. Who Was That Girl?
  10. D. Sharpe
  11. Fields of Alfalfa

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bill Frisell   Primary Artist,Guitar
Hank Roberts   Cello
Don Alias   Percussion
Curtis Fowlkes   Trombone
Tony Scherr   Bass,Guitar,Bass Guitar
Hal Willner   Turntables,Sampling
Adam Dorn   Synthesizer
Briggan Krauss   Baritone Saxophone
Kenny Wollesen   Drums
Eyvind Kang   Viola
Steven Bernstein   Trumpet
Noah Simon   Horn Engineer
Jenny Scheinman   Violin
858 Strings   Strings

Technical Credits

Bill Frisell   Composer,String Arrangements
G.A. Grant   Composer
Teddy Lasry   Composer
Tony Scherr   Composer
Hal Willner   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Kenny Wollesen   Composer
Eric Liljestrand   Composer,Engineer
Otto Sieben   Composer
Steven Bernstein   Composer,Horn Arrangements
Gregg Schaufeld   Editorial Coordinator
Noah Woods   Illustrations

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