it spells Miles-inflected experimental groove jazz

Splatch (Ramcat)

By Tim Roberts

The cover is funny: a stern, ruler-wielding teacher standing over a boy at a blackboard, his face frozen in fright and confusion, with dozens of variations of the word Splatch scrawled across it. The sound, though, is a flawless blend of synthesizer funk and Miles-inspired be-bop that's full of surprises. This is Louisville-based Splatch and their self-titled debut release.

Splatch consists of Tony McDaniel on trumpet, his brother Pat on bass, Pete Peterson on keyboards, and Sam Gray on drums. Gary Crawford brings his guitar to flavor a couple of tracks. And if the CD's cover suggests confusion, stress, and pressure, the music inside from this quartet (soon to be a quintet with the addition of percussionist Ondraus Cissel) is consistent, subtle, and tone-full.

The recording opens with the funk-rooted "Sunroof Top," with Tony on a muted trumpet and Gary Crawford's wah-wah guitar shading the melody line, followed by "Beware" and the reggae-rhythmed "Paint it Black."

Two middle tracks, "Mostar (Blues for Bosnia)," and "Dos' uh' Dis'," are bridged by a short, mechanical synth track called "Strait Jacket (aftermath of war)." The effect of the three selections take us into a darker, gritty sound that maintains the consistent, tight funk stylings without devolving into unsettling noise. The recording ends with the upbeat "Filthy Nasty" and "Father Time," a funk-waltz that starts softly but, after a mere rest, switches into a startling power-waltz that ends the recording cold.

This inaugural release from Splatch is fearless, unconventional, which shows the band is willing to take a few extra musical risks. The results are memorable. You won't forget them. Just remember to spell their name correctly.