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Published: 2001/08/20
by Chris Gardner

Live, volume I – Rebus

self-released

The first live release from these Virginians is busy and complex, often
threatening to fall into the frantic, but there is no denying the talent of
this quartet. They plunge into rubberband jams that stretch, stretch,
stretch, and snap back to empty space as a new thread begins. "Live Vol. 1"
plays like a highlight reel featuring three snippets of jams and several
songs that end so abruptly that you suspect the disc might have skipped,
especially on Let It Grow. It serves as an excellent showcase of the
band's abilities, but it lacks the continuity and cohesion of a true album.

"Live Vol. 1" opens with a false start, a two minute snippet of a jam that
ends as abruptly as it begins. It is an odd blip, but it is soon forgotten
as A Day in the Leaf launches. After a few bars of muffled vocals – hey,
it is a live recording – the band dives deep into the improvisational
waters,
plunging into spontaneous compositions that accent the band's willingness to
listen first. Rebus has strong prog-rock tendencies, but their ability to
tune into each others ideas and comp reveals a developed jazz sensibility.
Guitarist Andrew Crater is particularly adept at coloring the jam and adding
textures under James Pace's Rhodes.

The three snippets, two to three minute stretches of jams stripped out of
context, focus on the band's ability to stretch and stretch quickly. Low
Heels begins as Traffic’s Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys, but
they move
so quickly out that it is virtually unrecognizable after a mere two minutes.
The closer, Out of Spite, flashes the same "expand and contract"
thinking
that riddles the album's many jams as it builds and quickly settles back
into near silence. While all of these excerpts are impressive, they lend
the album a disjointed feel that detracts from the whole, emphasizing rather
the value of the part.

Aaron Gardner, of ulu joins the rhythm
section and James in an uncharacteristic groove that allows Pete Knowlton to
flash his ample talents on the bass, but the vamp seems simplistic in this
context. Better are the bouncy On the Fence, possibly the best
composition on the disc, and Glimpse > Time which covers 20 minutes
of ground
in 10 minutes.

This discs serves its purpose, to draw attention to the abilities of this
fast-rising quartet. Judged as an album, it is a disjointed, haphazard release
that lacks continuity and flow, but taken as a showcase or a "Greatest Jams"
collection it deserves a slot on your shelf. These guys are for real.

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