"Jazz is the teacher. Funk is the preacher." It's a maxim upon which Medeski Martin and Wood have built a career. On The Dropper, they just happen to be doing a lot more preaching than teaching. Drenched in a gauzy fuzz... more », this disc scatters thumping beats, wild solos, and eerie, shadowed melodies across a landscape of cavernous groove. Although it's certainly not as accessible as earlier dance-friendly efforts, The Dropper is even more to wrap a brain around. --S. Duda« less
"Jazz is the teacher. Funk is the preacher." It's a maxim upon which Medeski Martin and Wood have built a career. On The Dropper, they just happen to be doing a lot more preaching than teaching. Drenched in a gauzy fuzz, this disc scatters thumping beats, wild solos, and eerie, shadowed melodies across a landscape of cavernous groove. Although it's certainly not as accessible as earlier dance-friendly efforts, The Dropper is even more to wrap a brain around. --S. Duda
"It's been a good year for Medeski, Martin + Wood. Putting out a disc of such high caliber as the live, acoustic "Tonic" would be enough for most groups, but MMW have given us its electric equivalent. "The Dropper" is more great stuff from a band that has yet to slow down or rest on its laurels, even with a big-label contract.The album is not really tune-based like earlier MMW; there is a lot of exploration of dense textures and rhythms. Grooves are a little fleeting here, sometimes appearing for just a minute before falling out in favor of a new direction in the music. Now this kind of thing may scare some people off, but those folks would be missing out. If it's not immediately accessible to some, be patient. Repeated listening will pay off.The generally dark sound of the album is reminiscent of "Combustication", but the vibe is a little more aggressive here, helped out by the quality of the recording. I don't know sound engineering technology, but this CD sounds sharp. Every sound has depth to it that makes it feel like MMW are playing in a room with you, and you can reach over and feel the heat radiating off the band's amps.I'm not going to go track-by-track or discuss MMW's genre mixing (though I will say that just listening to "Tsukemono" will completely blow any preconcieved boundaries between genres out of your head); I'm just a fan recommending one helluva good chunk of music."
Wow, i feel lucky
J. F. Shallcross | 07/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WOW, as a 20 year old who has grown up in the most worthless period of music thus far, i feel lucky to have a group like mmw to evolve with. As a lover of progressive/non classifiable music, mmw is the definitive of this generation's zen. MMW takes you to another place. They have an extremely experimental and futuristic vibe which can only be compared to the european psychedelic era music ('69-'74) days of such groups as Gong and Hatfield and the North.
Here is my two cents on The Dropper:
First of all, give it a try...if you absolutely hate it, then listen to something else, if you like it a little, then try some earlier medeski, then listen to the dropper a few more times, and if you love it...well...i know how you feel.
MMW is a very experimental band, they dive deeper and deeper into musical space every album they come up with. Instead of fame and fortune, MMW is searching for a goal only John, Billy, and Chris understand (or do they)."
Shards of Music
Jeremy Baldwin | Ypsilanti, MI United States | 07/30/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Imagine a window with four panes of glass in it. Let's say one pane is Duke Ellington, one pane is John Zorn, one pane is Jimmy Smith and the last pane is Sonic Youth. Now drop this muti-faceted window on a cement floor and then jump on it while wearing your mama's combat boots. All the little shards of glass from the four panes get all mixed up and intermingled with each other. This is basically a description of what Medeski, Martin and Wood's latest CD, The Dropper sounds like.Medeski, Martin and Wood are a three-piece band that usually falls under the term Jazz although the majority of their fanbase seem to be rock fans. They are known for their super-funky, organ driven jams. They often mix elements of hip hop and avant-garde into their music also. The three men of MMW came up in New York's downtown jazz scene playing with various outfits like the Lounge Lizards, the Either/Orchestra and various John Zorn ensembles. At some point the band crossed over to a more mainstream audience partly because of their musician admirers who include the members of Phish.You are not too likely to find a John Zorn disc in a college fraternity house, but these days you are probably pretty likely to find a copy of a MMW album like Shack man or Combustication. This crossover is a pretty cool thing in most ways. It turns on a whole new audience to improvised funk and jazz. Their success probably helped pave the way for other acts like Galactic and Soulive. The downside of course, is that it is a lot harder to see MMW in an intimate venue.In recent years it seems the band might be trying to move away from its mainstream success. Last year they released Tonic which was an all-acoustic record and a far cry from the funk/hip-hop sound of their previous two albums. This latest offering once again is a left turn for the band. The Dropper consists of thirteen tracks that at times could be better described as soundscapes than as songs. Bizarre scraping and creaking noises reside along side Medeski's trademark organ and piano stylings. The band has reached a level of telepathic group playing that
few outfits ever achieve. Wood (bass) and Martin (drums) are one of the most synched up rhythm sections out there. Even through all of the strange noises and discordant bursts of music, there always seems to be a backbeat to hold it all together. The sound is sometimes industrial sounding, but also always organic at the same time. The bands music is more akin to trip-hop and ambient styles on this record than their typical jazz and funk. It is obvious that MMW treated the studio as another member of the band this time around. While this album has a live sound, it is not what they sound like live, if that makes any sense. Guests like Marc Ribot on guitar, Marshall Allen on sax as well as several
violinists also add to the overall sound. I find this CD to really enjoyable. It is sometimes dark and brooding, but always interesting. This latest effort by MMW might scare off some of the fratboys, but others will see the beauty of this music and will be happy that they did."
A challenging listen, but MMW continues to push the envelope
d_e_a_ | Dallas, Texas USA | 10/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Medeski, Martin, & Wood have always refined, redefined, or reinvented their sound from album to album. On The Dropper, MMW manages to do all of this within single songs. Gone are the albums dedicated to displaying the group's individual and ensemble virtuosity. MMW now seems concerned with constructing dense, organic, funky, and sometimes dissonant soundscapes. Combustication's experimentation in different textures and sonorities is continued and aggressively expanded on The Dropper. This makes for a more daunting listen initally, but once the sounds and grooves settle in your mind they are quite rewarding. The above notwithstanding, this is still a fun album. In spite of (or due to) the experimentation and the familiar NYC recording surroundings, this album manages to retain a certain lighthearted nature. This group that is comfortable enough to explore and have fun, and watching MMW get to that point has been one of the most rewarding things about being a fan for five or six years. You'll scratch your head for a while (I still am), but soon you'll be nodding your head along with the bizarre and very funky grooves."