Released: June 1999
Imagine a straightforward jazz album. Now filter that jazz album through a 65 Mustang's radio system. Now step on the recording--smash it into your shoes. Now play it again. That's Flanger. This ain't acid jazz. This isn't even Sun Ra. This is jazz that is sampled and cut-up to the point where the traditional jazz drum, bass, keys and horns are obscured with feedback and noise--jazz so confused that it actually sounds interesting instead of monotonous and out-of-date (which is what I usually think when I think about jazz). Apparently, Flanger recorded this album on traditional instruments--drums, bass, piano, vibraphone, etc. But then they "edited" it in the studio, and turned those very familiar instruments into something so unusual that you can barely recognize the original sounds. I've never heard anything like Flanger: an album that starts out blue and ends up red, that starts out traditional and ends up more experimental than even the most experimental of performance artists. From the first track, "Music to Begin With" and its list of musical styles that turns into a cacophony of musical blends, to "Short Note with a Few" and its piano interlude that turns into a time-bomb of muted filter effects, to the end, Templates is filled with surprise after surprise. Once you think the album will settle down into a nice, happy but incredibly boring jazz number, it throws your expectations away and you are left wondering what you'll hear next. In a world where even the most abstract and "fucked-up" beat can render our cynical ears dead, that is high praise indeed.
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