Fast ‘N’ Bulbous – Waxed Oop

Fast ‘N’ Bulbous – Waxed Oop

Fast ‘N’ Bulbous – Waxed Oop

Don Van Vliet (AKA Captain Beefheart) had a way with writing intricately woven rhythms and fusing them with unusual sounding chords. His style of deception, in the way everything mirrored some sort of colorfully arranged kaleidoscope, will always be remembered. But most of all, whether you liked his music or not, one cannot deny the absolute influence his music has had. Escaping to another land where everything from polyrhythms to modal scales to syncopation is accepted, there is a lot to study and learn from the Captain.

Guitarist Gary Lucas was the lead guitarist in Vliet’s last band and, collecting an impressive amount of capable musicians, his Fast ‘N’ Bulbous collection is continuing to stretch the means of jazz, funk, rock and even, country rock. From the get-go, it’s obvious that things will run a far different course on Waxed Oop. “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N’ Yes I Do” features Lucas on a Southern guitar solo that slops and slides all over the place. Entirely alone, Lucas injects a twangy style that will continue to be prevalent on the rest of the album.

Diverse and varied, the band’s second album is a true mashing of styles. Even when the best ones are explored with rambunctious tendencies and clashingly splendid musicianship, they never seem to lose any sort of creativity. Something like “Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop” chugs on the basis of slide guitar inflections and a funky drum kit. While the bari sax blows down the end with a cool compliment, the jazzy expertise of the saxes is especially memorable. And, depending on your mood, even the following experimentation of “The Blimp”, complete with peculiar wording (that sounds like something off a TV warning) and darkly minor chords, can hit the spot.

Much like Beefheart was, there were a few times when they came on a tad too strong, where everything just seemed too off-base. Call it a lack of presence, call it an aberration, call it whatever; Fast ‘N’ Bulbous suffer from some of that same sentiment on Waxed Oop. The bragging roll of “Dropout Boogie” can seem tremendous at first, but as the same carries through the song – with the changes in tempo and style killing the mood – it’s too good for its own good. And elsewhere, “Ice Rose” carries the same battling saxes and horns to the finish line, without ever so much as a care for tone, melody or harmony. It’s as if the band was allowed to let loose and nobody bothered to pay attention to how confusing it all really did sound.

While these complaints can be seen as inessential to different ears, some of the music can be a little too genre blurring. They can come off as a funkier and deeper sounding Dave Matthews Band on some ends, and like a swing hall back-up on others.  Luckily, something as musically special as “The Past Sure is Tense” is left for the end with everyone allowed to smartly contribute. With the proper key, proper cadence, the building into the saxes’ “Joy to the World” is a thrilling moment.

Lucas and Co. definitely benefit from giving into their wildest dreams with enough multi-faceted characteristics floating around. Waxed Oop is a bag filled with endless tricks of surprise and fun. And while it isn’t entirely filled with successful tricks, there’s enough good to go around.

“Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop” by Fast ‘N’ Bulbous

Cuneiform Records