Green Romance Orchestra
Play Part I and IV
By: Danielle Woodrich
When the disk went in and all systems were go, I prepared myself to listen diligently for signs that Doug Neil, J. Paul Slavens, Gary Muller were fitting collaborators for our famous and infamous, Dave Abbruzzese. I did not have to listen long - - they prove themselves immediately, and by the end of the disk's first track, the beautiful "Brittle", I had forgotten all about it. The entrancing guitars, Whitman-esque lyrics, effortless rhythms and raw sincerity were thankfully a portent.
"Don't (Choices)" scathes from the first note to the last. Slavens' voice threatens, "Don't make me choose between the two of you." Who are the two? I don't know. Who are the two for you, is the question. Yeah, ouch. But it's the good kind of pain, keep listening. The guitars are relentlessly mouth-watering, and I am thankful for Neil's birth through a guitar's sound hole. Gary Muller antes up his talents on the Chapman Stick, but beware; this man's rhythm is not for the faint of heart.
"High" has a loose, 'driving-in-your-car-to-someplace-excellent' feel to it. It reminded me of an old Rita Marley song, possibly because of the reggae flavor drummed and dashed in. It's a fine example of the laid-back style, yet complex arrangements that make this album a contender for addict-residency in the CD player.
"Waiting for Sid," has the unlikely line, "I will give you a dollar/You can go to the store/and buy a bag of oranges..." The album is funny this way - seductive and silly at the same time. Green Romance is not hurried; the band takes the time to scrumptiously pause...again, ...and again, on these two songs. The reward for your anticipation? Only the heart ripping delivery of Neil's slick guitarwork and the ferocious beating of the skins that Abbruzzese hands out.
"Sleep," only loosely veiled as an improvisational jam, is a slamming number that makes me see Les Claypool out of the corner of my eye. Harsh and intoxicating lyrics, simply put - it rocks. There is a song I have to group into the Green Pumpkin Barking Orchestra category (the humor of this band, sometimes cynical and sometimes just plain bizarre, must have Frank Zappa spinning and chortling in his grave) - "Bogie Had Leeches" provides unexpected laughs between the suspenseful funk of "Look Away" and "In..Out..It."
"Tree" has the Abbruzzese signature that Pearl Jam fans became acquainted with on the Fan Club's Christmas single, "Angel." Slaven's voice though, nips a comparison (of similar emphasis on melodious acoustic guitar) right after that crucial bud. This song, longer than the too-short "Angel," is perhaps a bit too long, but I don't know. Maybe it was a very big tree.
"Remains" and "Given the Time" - I left these for last. Green Romance Orchestra did too and I sense a wisdom in that. A part of me (ok, the girly sweet fuzzy-pink-sweater-wearing part) hears the painfully barbed thoughts as sung by Slavens are ones that might have been best left private. But an arched eyebrow doesn't stay arched. The atoms of these songs and this album are not sentiments. Its essential parts are musical. Even if much of the most potent art and music is born out of pain endured and damage sustained, a release this harmonious and exuberant can only be a celebration. Enjoy.
NOTE: Also check out "DAVE ABBRUZZESE DOESN'T MIND THE HEAT AND IS NOT LEAVING THE KITCHEN: An interview with Dave Abbruzzese" in the "Show Reviews/Interviews" of this issue.