Bassist Todd Sickafoose has developed a career as a sideman for a wide range of artists that includes Don Byron and, most notably, alt-folk singer Ani DiFranco. That he's brought this eclecticism to his own work as a leader should come as no surprise. That he's able to bend genres and use studio effects so successfully comes as a relief.
Most of the 11 tracks feature the kind of tricky meters, dark grooves, and off-kilter harmonies that would fit right in on a Dave Douglas record. Selections such as "Future Flora" and "Invisible Ink, Revealed," with their spiky, effects-laden guitar lines and brooding melodies, sound like the soundtrack to a futuristic thriller.
A bold horn section propels the best cuts, driving the melody and adding a measure of tension to "Warm Stone" and "Bye Bye Bees." Selections that lack strong frontline horns, such as "Pianos of the 9th Ward" and "Whistle," come off as nicely woven (if somewhat cold) soundscapes.
Sickafoose's main asset is his ability to create seamless transitions from one motif to another while maintaining a consistent mood. The size of the band - which includes four horn players, two guitarists, and two percussionists - lets Sickafoose expirament with layers and tectures while maintaining improvisational spontaneity. Aside from acoustic and electric bass, Sickafoose himself plays several instruments, including piano, vibes and celeste. He's obviously the restless kind, which works to his advantave on this disc. -by John Frederick Moore