By Aaron Stein
Charlie Hunter is at it again. Every few months he emerges with a new ensemble and a new sound and plays a bunch of intimate gigs in New York. He perfects the sound, puts it on record, and then goes back to his laboratory to start it all over again. Out of this cycle comes Groundtruther, his duo/trio with NYC superdrummer Bobby Previte and go-to-guy turntablist DJ Logic who fills in whatever little blank spots there are left after those two are done with the palette. The album is called Longitude, and the departure from even Charlie’s most adventurous stuff is stark.
The thing is, Charlie Hunter is playing guitar on this album. Sure, he’s a master of the 8-string guitar, but the sound and playing has always been closer to what you’d hear from an organ and/or a bass guitar. The style is unique and impressive, but when you hear it, you’re not thinking: “Damn, that’s some electric guitar.” Well, if you were waiting to say that about anything Charlie Hunter plays, this is your chance. The music is a combination of straight rock fusion and looping rocktronica with the usual whirling Lesley-amplified tone from Hunter being replaced by a fuzzy, whining, sizzling electric guitar.
Not to short-change Previte, who’s just as vital to the sound coming from Groundtruther. He’s nonstop kinetic energy, pummeling his kit with full strength, appropriately alternating between flailing rock beats and techno-flavored rhythms. The pair are locked in from beginning to end, leaving the listener fully engaged without a care for songs, tracks, beginnings, or ends. In a word, it is dynamic.
Hunter and Previte twist around each other like two halves to a chocolate and vanilla soft-serve cone, except here the flavors are “rock and roll” and “cosmic traveler.” DJ Logic is the generous topping of rainbow sprinkles, providing fancy colors and tongue-tempting textures but not really a major oomph of flavor. He's the perfect addition and a tasty treat. Longtime fans of Charlie’s should pick this one up posthaste, and if you’re interested in seeing how far his chops can take you, this is your chance.