Julie Slick – Terroir (2012)

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Julie Slick’s second solo album, just issued after a successful Kickstarter campaign, advances every thrilling notion about her playing, and her creative vision, first hinted at during the 20-something bassist’s stint with the Adrian Belew Power Trio.

Already a veteran of tours with Yes vocalist Jon Anderson and Police drummer Stewart Copeland as well, Slick brings all of these myriad experiences to bear on Terroir’s 10 tracks — deftly blending her muscular, ever-active electric bass with a stunningly diverse mixture of keyboards, vocals, programming, layered rhythms and guitars.

After opening with the purpled turbulence of “6,” recorded with guitarist David Torn and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto, Slick then settles into a idyllic rumination on “Pi” — with layer upon layer upon layer of kaleidoscopic vocals over an insistent, almost metronomic bass cadence. “Accidental Incident” (one of several tracks with Slick’s brother Eric, who played drums with her in the Belew Power Trio) then gurgles up like a half-remembered dream, before Slick leads Terrior back toward the flinty math-rock groove of “Kismet” and “Sirène” — the last of which features guitarist Adrian Belew, with whom Slick has also toured as a member of the Crimson ProjeKCt.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: We talked with Adrian Belew about his time in the Frank Zappa Graduate School, King Crimson’s uncertain future and his amazing orchestral reimaging of ‘e.’]

“Quintal” explores a weirdly ruminative dissonance, with this off-kilter riff and a perfectly doomy keyboard. “Go!,” with its propulsive drum signature, looping baby talk, crashing washes of wordless singing, and episodic rhythm shifts, has all the portent of a classic page-turning horror novel — and just as much pupil-dilating detail.

The impossibly upbeat “Minminzemmi” arrives then like a sheltering sunrise, changing the shadows around everything that came before with its loping drums, heart-splashing guitars and anthematic arc. “Skypark,” also including Torn on guitar, is the kind of dance music you wish they played in clubs, but it’s probably too smart, and certainly too complex.

Then, there’s “Even the Tide Recedes,” a moody send off for Terroir that completely connects with the underwater melancholy of Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp’s best ambient work. At nearly 15 minutes long, it’s a triumph of understated emotion — and further proof that there is little Julie Slick can’t do.

Julie Slick’s new album ‘Terroir’ is available for download through her website julieslick.com.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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