The Grassy Knoll ‘Electric Verdeland, Vol. 1’ Review: Austin based electronica project makes for an immersive and hallucinatory listen.
It’s been 12 years since Trip-hop-jazz-rockers The Grassy Knoll’s last album, but they’ve returned with the intriguing Electric Verdeland, Vol. 1.
The Grassy Knoll is the musical alter-ego of one-man-band Bob Nolan Green, and past efforts have focused on densely layered instrumentals soaked in funky rhythms.
Electric Verdeland shakes up the formula with a more collaborative nature, which includes musicians such as Living Colour guitar virtuoso Vernon Reid, who lends his mad scientist riffing on tracks like the furiously funky Car In Reverse.
That track features singer Ann Courtney, which marks another departure: Electric Verdeland Vol 1 is Green’s first album to include featured vocalists ala Massive Attack. Other memorable vocal contributions include James Rotondi on the hallucinatory Voluptuous Misery, and Adam Sultan on the Disco-Goth The Art of Fear.
But the key sound remains Green’s dense compositions which fuses old funk and rock samples (subtle enough not to be early discernible) with his skilled musical collaborators. The Definitive Manifesto for Handling Haters is a prime example, which sounds like a soundtrack collage of 70’s cop theme and 90’s coming-of-age tale, laced with Brad Houser’s incendiary saxophone.
Austin Music Hall of Famer Jon Dee Graham lays his Tom Waits-worthy whisky soaked pipes on We Are Building Something Together. It’s a track that manages to sound hopeful yet haunting all at once, augmented by haunting piano, skittering percussion, ethereal backing vocals and granulated Mellotron. It’s the perfect album closer.
In an era of cut-and-paste EDM, Electric Verdeland Vol I, is a refreshing anomaly, reminding us (along with the recent return of Aphex Twin), that electronic music can be thrilling and transportive when in the right hands. One can only wait and wonder where Vol II might take us.