UMASS Daily Collegian
This album does it all
'No Bud for Bisson' hits the mark
By Russ Juskalian, Collegian Correspondent
Their shows are some of the best in The Valley, but can NBFB really bring that stunning live performance energy to anyone with a cheap stereo and six bucks to spare?
After listening to their latest studio release, "No Bud For Bisson," the answer is an overwhelming affirmative. The band features Ron Peleg bringing a noticeable fusion of Zeppelin, Santana and the Doors to his jam-based guitar solos. Darby Wolf on the keyboard straddles between psychedelic and P-funk, while Dan Rehm supplies dub baselines that leave even the least limber of fans no choice but to dance.
If that wasn't enough, Bob Moriarty's saxophone injects groove wherever it wasn't already, and borders on the dreamlike. Dave Bisson is of course the puppeteer who holds everyone together - always poised to bring the audience back to reality with his impeccably timed drums, or ready to push people into pure oblivion with break-beats and groove.
Though the first few tracks are all well played, they present no coherency for the album, no consistent mood. From the chilled out, pop-dub track "Deep Analog," to "Rippington" with an intro clearly reflecting the influence of early Red Hot Chili Peppers, the songs all work on their own - and together if only as a sampling of what NBFB is capable of. These first songs are indeed high in quality, but in the end detract from an otherwise tightly realized project.
The new album really gets started with "Nameology," a track replete with audible influences combined to birth a completely new sound.
Peleg's clean and dreamlike opening riff reminds me of the similarly clean melodies from Dave Matthews Band's hit, "Crush."
From here the rest of NBFB join the fray. Immediately heard is Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters" - less frantic but with more groove - with Moriarty teasing at being oneiric with his perfectly placed saxophone.
Just as it seems that the song has reached a plateau, Wolf brings some Parliament Funkadelic to the table with the sound of that band's now trademark funky-synth. It's not over before Peleg gives listeners some Santana inspired guitar. The pace of the song gets rushed, but sounds right, and finally it comes full circle to the original groove of the opening minute of the track, which feels like home after such a collage of musical thoughts.
"Nameology" is a starting point from which the rest of the album unfolds to display intricacy and skill. "Strictly Nightvision" and "Delayed Reaction" feel like epics - the listener is trapped in these journey pieces.
Listeners will feel as though they are hypnotically being brought on some sort of fantastic, psychedelic adventure: Moriarty's sax draws people in while Peleg's guitar guides the listener along a funky path through a surreal wilderness of sound and reality.
If the penultimate track and its preceding track are the first two chapters in a prolonged journey, then the final track, "The Police Are Your Friends," serves as a perfect conclusion.
Relaxing and entrancing, "The Police Are Your Friends" is the kind of song you would want to hear at 4 a.m., after drifting off into the funky melodies and grooves of a NBFB show. If life had a soundtrack, this is the song that would play when you woke up from a dream feeling content - somewhere between dreaming and waking life.
What NBFB really excels at is providing a coherent feeling to their music in concert - it's really one big show as opposed to a loosely strewn sampling of different sounds. "No Bud For Bisson" captures this and the energy of their live jam-sessions magnificently, but it doesn't quite get it right for the first handful of songs. The best songs on the album are part of a larger landscape of sound, and tend to be the songs without vocals.