DRKWAV is an appropriate name for this trio of Skerik (Illuminasti Trio/Dead Kenny G’s, Garage A Trois) on saxophones, John Medeski (Medeski, Martin, and Wood/Either/Orchestra) on keyboards, and Adam Deitch (Lettuce/Ledisi/John Scofield); the music on debut The Purge is dark, and it ebbs and flows like waves hitting the beach.
This record is full of dense grooves and psychedelic soundscapes. A listener is never quite sure what instrument is making what sound as all the musical lines here are processed and manipulated. Sounds and notes slowly come over the top or bubble up from the bottom of the arrangement—whether the elephant calls of Skerik’s horn or the smeared chords of Medeski’s keyboards. Often records like this can get spacey and noodle with no direction, but The Purge never loses its propulsion.
It is full-on throughout the record. The funk here is like a solid slab on songs like Count Chockulous, with its intricate riff; it takes an eerie turn on the driving “Hell Bass,” full of creaks and static. Eric Dolphy’s “Gazzeloni” still has its off-kilter, surprising runs, but beyond that, it’s hard to believe it is the same tune.
Like their antecedents Burnt Sugar and the wild, improvised, noisy funk/jazz of early 1970s Miles Davis (Dark Magus/Agharta/Pangaea), this trio makes a lot of great and heavy music for three people, and they do it with a great degree of success.