If rock stars were superheroes, Banyan's ferocious new full length Live at Perkins Palace (out October 12 on Sanctuary Records), would be the stuff of comic book-collecting fantasies. Over the course of their previous two full-lengths (1997's Banyan and 1999's Anytime At All), Jane's Addiction's resident drums guru Stephen Perkins lead an all-star rotating cast culled from California's collaboration-happy music scene. Banyan has consisted of eccentric beat junkies like Money Mark and the Dust Brothers, to Chili Peppers Flea and John Frusciante, to critically acclaimed bassist Rob Wasserman.

For Live At Perkins Palace, Perkins wanted to capture the essence of Banyan's ambitious live experience. In doing so, he trimmed the group's far-reaching lineup down to its four core members. This time around Banyan consists of former Minutemen bassist and low-frequency iconoclast Mike Watt, Wilco's current ghost-birthing guitarist Nels Cline, one-time Death Row records session musician Willie Waldman on trumpet, and Perkins holding it all together on the kit.

The results are equal parts breathtaking and booty-shaking. For a group named after an Indian fig tree whose roots can encompass over an acre of land, Live At Perkins Palace is remarkably free of the indulgences that have claimed many a side project casualty. This is definitely virtuosic stuff, but Banyan seek to move your body just as much as your mind. Perkins attacks the kit like he studied under modern beat-scientists like DJ Shadow and Rjd2 just as much as jazz pioneers like Art Blakey. And Mike Watt's pugnacious bass lines still resonate with the same tongue-in-cheek flair that he built a career on. Furthermore, Nels Cline's reedy guitar abstractions frolic like kindergarteners at recess with Waldman's frenetic trumpet stabs, cooking the high-end of the mix to perfection.

Banyan will be bringing this incarnation to a city near you in support of Live At Perkins Palace. Playing with the band for these dates will be abstract trapezoidal-painter Norton Wilson.

JamBase | California
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[Published on: 9/15/04]

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