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Published: 2001/11/21
by Brad Weiner

The Rug – Big Ass Truck

Terminus Records 0101-2

It is a bold leap to start name anything "Big Ass". For a little while, a
local
pizza place had a 20 inch monster with that title. It was so enormous that
one
needed to tilt it slightly sideways to get it through the doorway.
Eventually,
some warrior in the battle for political correctness had the name changed to
"extra large". In that case, the "Big Ass" was a failure. In the case of Big
Ass Truck, we get an interesting dish that will delight music fans of all
styles.

Their most recent release, "The Rug", is strangely danceable, ambient, and
groovy all at the same time. The most interesting musical communication is
between drummer Robert Barnnett and bassist Grayson Grant who plays both
electric and upright. The rhythmic bottom provides ample opportunities to
add
to the mixture. Big Ass Truck does this in a number of ways with varying
degrees of success.

The is a horn-driven composition with apparent brass band
influence. Its
funky backbone is by far the most stylized component. They manage to make it
soar even with the mediocre turntable technique of Colin Butler.

Butler ascended to jamband fame when he spun some electronica into
Widespread Panic's 1999 opus, "Til the Medicine Takes". Panic had Big Ass
Truck
open a handful of gigs for them and always wheeled Butler out for gratuitous
solos on Dyin’ Man and during their ever popular drum duets. I
attended one of
these ill-fated performances and I did not enjoy it. Big
Ass Truck is far more didactic and compelling in the studio than on the
stage.

The Me consists of a tribal percussive rhythm provided by guest David
Green.
The tune captures a melancholy foreground of slowed down surf guitar licks.
The sound is unusually warm and brilliant. My only comparison is to the
emotionally riveting Daniel Lanois score to the Billy Bob Thornton
masterpiece
"Sling Blade". Big Ass Truck performs similarly on the album's closing tune
The
Rug, which clocks in at over seven minutes, and in that time, gains
spectacular momentum when it drifts into a Floydian piano rocker.

My greatest compliment for "The Rug" is that I have used it as the
soundtrack
for partying, homework, reading and sleeping. Not many albums have the
diversity and ambient capacity to accompany such a wide spectrum of
behavior.
The disc is just shy of thirty-eight minutes. Some of those minutes are used
in meaningless segues, but I prefer a thirty-eight minute concept album to
a lengthy guitar-infused disc of repetitive jams. If you're looking for an
ambient concept album, to diversify your overflowing jamband collection,
"The
Rug" might be just the answer. Big Ass Truck doesn't deliver everything that
a
Big Ass Truck could, but you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by the
entertaining mixture of the Memphis quintet.

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