To me, DRKWAV‘s music sounds like something is constantly about to go wrong in a noir detective film. Slick, smoky horns pierce through a shadowy atmosphere while an organ sound punctuates the groove and a ticking drum beat adds suspense.
The sound is abstract, jazzy, and some could even say disjointed. It plays out more like a movie or TV scene than an actual song – like many scores, it’s completely instrumental and without traditional structure. It’s something different for the casual listener. But this trio of seasoned jazz, rock, and hip-hop vets is no stranger to the idea of something “different.”
Drummer Adam Deitch has produced tracks for rappers like 50 Cent and Redman but he has also beat the skins for jazz guitar legend John Scofield. Saxophonist Skerik (Eric Walton) is credited as a pioneer on his instrument and has played with bizzaro rock mainstay Les Claypool’s Fancy Band, as well as his Frog Brigade. John Medeski is best known for his other jazzy, funky trio: Medeski, Martin and Wood (regulars at music festivals worldwide throughout the past decade.)
They each bring a unique brand of otherworldliness to the table however Medeski and Deitch come together more as a rhythm section; Medeski plays bass on one of his multiple keyboards. Skerik adds most of the prevailing color, using an inexhaustible reservoir of licks and tricks augmented by his well equipped pedalboard. Use of a looping effect enables him to add layers which can sound like horn sections.
DRKWAV is a meeting of the minds that had to happen. It becomes apparent when the music starts. The idea of jamming is that the artists are spontaneously communicating with each other on the level of their shared medium. This trio banters like the characters in a Tarantino flick. Their latest “flick” would be the debut album of DRKWAV’s first album The Purge. Their record label, The Royal Potato Family, describes the album as “a wall of intricately detailed psychedelic sound.”
This Saturday DRKWAV takes the North Beach Bandshell for January’s final Seaside Session presented by the Rhythm Foundation. Judging from the countless DRKWAV shows I’ve streamed on YouTube, one can expect a real fun and eery night of wild solos, soundscapes, and beats. It may surprise you, it may disorient you, but you’ve never heard anything like it before.
It’s not for those music listeners who want a drop, a repetitive bass thump, and a catchy hook. The Purge, as well as DRKWAV’s mostly improvised live shows, requires patience and open ears. They also require a willingness to go places so dark and strange one almost expects Mike Patton’s tortured shrieks to start emanating from the speakers (not totally off the mark since Medeski jammed alongside Patton with experimental composer John Zorn).