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Album review: Dave King's 'Indelicate'

February 2, 2010 |  1:43 pm

Dave_king  When the adventurous jazz trio the Bad Plus is onstage, it's quite possible that no one in the room is having a better time than drummer Dave King. Gifted with an intensely athletic, time-bending approach, King's face is often locked into a manic grin as his body contorts around his kit in a syncopated high-wire act that anchors the group's sound.

So maybe it was only a matter of time until King gave a solo album a try. But instead of crafting a collection of layered beats, King makes the unconventional choice of showcasing his piano chops as well. His bent sense of melody sometimes recalls the "ugly beauty" of Thelonious Monk, such as on the jagged "Bees." Other times a fragile beauty emerges -- on the piano ballad "I See You, You See Me," for example -- that flies against the album's self-deprecating title.

Elsewhere, "Homage: Young People" opens with a submerged keyboard line that gives way to a driving Krautrock beat and anthemic chords that wouldn't sound out of place on an LCD Soundsystem record. King again gives his genre-blind compositional skills a workout with the compressed percussion of "Highly Varnished Academic Realism" and "Arts High Boogie," which rises from an insistent, single-note midsection to a fuzzed-out climax.

With most tracks hovering around the two- or three-minute mark, King doesn't dwell on too many ideas for very long, but luckily he has plenty to go around. Although it's certainly a departure from his musical day job, "Indelicate" showcases King's sense of daring. He's barely begun to show us a good time.

-- Chris Barton

Dave King
 Three stars (Out of four)