While there are certainly some bands that can be categorized fairly well within narrow guidelines, Critters Buggin’ is not one of them. However, their bio actually does as good a job as anyone could of describing the aural cornucopia of styles — “an `amalgam’ of free jazz, acid funk, tribal grooves, prog-rock, Japnoise caterwaul and cyber-dub.” Go ahead and throw drum `n’ bass into the mix as well.
This Seattle-based instrumental based band is an odd one to be sure. It’s made up of members and former members of bands like Tuatara, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians, Pearl Jam, and the Spin Doctors. But don’t expect to hear any of these bands’ sounds in Critters Buggin. Instead, you might hear hints of Soul Coughing, Medeski, Martin and Wood, the Chemical Brothers, or Sun Ra.
Their third album on Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard’s record label kicks off with a rant by a Kansas City crocodile keeper about sodium fluoride in the water supply set to music. From there, the style changes intensely from track to track, although not all of them actually come together as coherent songs.
It makes sense that some of the tracks are jarring and others complete — the band’s recording process involves digitally splicing hours of spontaneous jamming to create songs in the studio. While the process sometimes works, it doesn’t always. But while Bumpa can be difficult to listen to as an “album,” it does contain some excellent tracks, such as “Chimp and Ape,” “Flouride,” and “Fast Johnson.” It also showcases a bevy of amazingly talented musicians who have come together to create a bizarre, yet oftentimes interesting, style. Loosegroove Records, 2508 Fifth Ave., Suite 110, Seattle, WA 98121; http://www.loosegroove.com