Wilkes, Sam: One Theme & Subsequent Improvisation LP
Los Angeles-based bassist and regular Sam Gendel collaborator Sam Wilkes teams up with some likeminded friends to build on the febrile funk of 'One Theme' and shuttle it into lively prog-jazz territory. Synth-blasted, improv nu-jazz sunshine that's part Carlos Niño, part Quincy Jones, part Tortoise and part Dilla.
The album springs out of a defined theme - fittingly the opening track - and spirals from that point, cascading in various disparate improvised directions.
'Phillips' is an early highlight, focusing on an analog synth part that sounds as if it's been trapped in a Space Echo loop, before 'The Drums' sharply follows and hones in on overdriven drums that could have been chopped from Broadcast's underrated "Haha Sound". On 'Chris Fishman' the album nudges into more abstract territory as the percussion gets more purposed and eventually more chaotic, and cosmic synth improvisations hark back to Sun Ra before tapping into a fresh 4/4 Detroit splatter.
The album feels as if it gets free-er as it progresses, snowballing quickly into Chicago post-rock territory while keeping an eye planter on the fusion canon - and the last three tracks are the most out-there on the album. Channeling the spiritual energy of Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane, Wilkes and his collaborators dip into pure beat scene psychedelia, closing on 'The 3rd', a track so faded you're likely to get a contact high.