Bill Frisell and Vernon Reid
Smash & Scatteration
1 Landscapes in Alternative History (Reid) 4:27
Frisell: Roland 300 guitar synth
Reid: steinberger guitar, Roland 700 guitar synth, guitar
synth Midi to Korg Poly 800 synth, revisionist DX drums
2 Size 10 1/2 Sneaks (Frisell) 3:10
Frisell: prepared acoustic guitar, Gibson electric guitar,
downhome DX drums
Reid: six-string banjo
3 Amarillo, Barbado (Frisell) 2:49
Frisell: Roland 300 guitar synth
Reid: washburn electric-acoustic guitar
4 Last Nights of Paris (Reid) 3:04
Fisell: Ovation acoustic guitar
Reid: six-string banjo
5 Burden of Dreams (Reid) 6:35
Reid: roland 700 guitar synth, Midi to Korg Poly 800
synth (solo recorded live with no overdubs)
6 Dark Skin (Reid) 5:27
Frisell: Roland 300 guitar
Reid: Les Paul electric guitar, Roland 700 guitar
synth, techno-tribal DX drums
7 Fr, Fr, Frisell (Frisell) 4:10
Frisell: roland 300 guitar synth, Electro-Harmonix
dely (solo recorded live with no overdubs)
8 Small Hands (Frisell) 4:12
Frisell: Roland 300 guitar synth
Reid: roland 700 guitar synth, Midi to Korg Poly 800
9 Black Light (Frisell) 7:06
Frisell: Roland 300 guitar synth, Electro-Harmonix
delay, doom-oriented DX drums
Reid: Stratocaster electric guitar

    Do you like synths, heavy mechanical programmable electronic drumbeats and wildly inconsistent albums? Then Smash & Scatteration is the album for you. A full collaboration between In Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid and Frisell, this album is a frightening peek at how bad a lot of instrumental music in the 1980's was. The two produced all the songs on the album, and split the writing credits. I'd say about 50% is not only listenable, but actually really good, and not just the Frisell half. Basically the good tracks are the ones that avoid the heavy electronic instrument use. I usually try to look past effects and sound to the root of the song, but both Frisell and Reid seem so enchanted with all their toys here that they seem to be used just for the sake of trying them out than for actually trying to explore their sounds. "Landscapes in Alternative History", "Dark Skin", "Small Hands" and "Black Light" all suffer this problem. The drums sound ponderous, static and ridiculous next to the fluid synths and guitars. The synths are a kind of "beautiful" sound that leaves me queasy.
    What does make this album any good at all is the excellent playing and writing on tracks like Frisell's boisterous "Size 10 1/2 Sneaks", "Amarillo, Barbados" and Reid's string happy "Last Nights of Paris." Both and Reid and Frisell have excellent solo tracks. I like Reid's "Burden of Dreams" despite the synths that hover in the background in the entire song, and "Fr, Fr, Frisell" is an excellent improvised treat from Frisell. It is possible to most out stuff I've ever heard him play; four minutes of harsh, angular, jutting delay loops and noise.
    I would recomend to only buy this album if you are a Frisell completist. Be warned that it sounds like nothing else Frisell has ever done.

Recorded at Gramavision Studio, New York City, December 1984

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