VIKTOR KRAUSS : : FAR FROM ENOUGH (NONESUCH)

Props to the innovators. Who knew, before the fact, that peanut butter and jelly would be so delicious together? Sure, on their own, they're rather tasty, but it doesn't naturally follow that they'd do the trick in tandem.

Similarly, who knew that Bill Frisell and Jerry Douglas would sound so delicious together? Separately they are two of the finest musicians in their respective fields, making, some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. Who knew that together their music could be equally as gorgeous? Apparently, Viktor Krauss did--lucky for us. Krauss is likely the sole degree of separation between Frisell and Douglas, being the bassist in many of Frisell's projects as well as the husband of Allison Krauss in whose Union Station Douglas plays dobro. Krauss' Far From Enough features these two masters smeared generously between two thick slices of rhythm--Viktor's bass and Steve Jordan's drums--and comes up sounding quite tasty and satisfying.

The album is rainy morning, lazy afternoon, long drive in autumn type listening with mostly mellowish, slow songs which need repeated listenings to be completely absorbed. Despite the quiet nature of the music, I found it best to crank up the volume to fully appreciate the interplay between Frisell and Douglas.

The first thing that struck me about the album was how little bass there actually was for an album recorded by a bassist. There are no bass solos and barely any juicy, complicated bass charts present. Nonetheless, after running through the tracks multiple times I deemed Krauss to be brilliant, although I wasn't quite sure in what context. Either he was brilliant because he composed note-by-note pieces which perfectly layered Bill's guitar work and Jerry's dobro and steel guitar playing, or he was brilliant for just getting the two together and stepping back and to let them reach perfection naturally. I suspect it is somewhere in between, but either way: brilliant!

The album is a musical massage working to release tension after repetitive, deep rubbing. With very few solos and little compositional rambling, Krauss sets out riffs and texture; the lightly layered sound is jazz tiramisu for the soul. The wild card is Allison Krauss, who has vocals on many tracks but no words to sing. Her contributions are essentially "oohs," "aahs," moans, and caterwauling very well matched to the overall mood of the album, and her voice is just as beautiful as the notes from Frisell and Douglas. Peanut butter and jelly will never be considered culinary genius, but it's a solid, tasty sandwich that always satisfies. Like that old favorite, Far From Enough is actually quite enough, indeed.

Aaron Stein
JamBase | New York
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[Published on: 11/3/04]

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