Califone, Roots & Crowns

Rod Smith

By Rod Smith

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Roots & Crowns

A fractured, funky, folky, jammy good time from a great, uncategorizable Chicago band.

If civilization endures, Roots and Crowns will have at least a few 24th-century musicologists tearing their hair out — in a good way, of course. Califone's seventh album finds mastermind Tim Rutili (ex-Red Red Meat) and company blithely marrying fractured funkadelia, twisted pan-global folk and Grateful Dead-like instrumental interplay in a slow-burning blaze of laptop-assisted glory that salutes apparently disparate traditions even as it consumes them. Gliding on a carpet of vaguely Middle Eastern percussion, opener "Pink and Sour" charms our inner cobra with pulsating drones and slide guitar that overlay Natchez and Mumbai like projector transparencies. "Black Metal Valentine" nudges its glitches into the realm of artficial life, myriad guitar-sourced scrapes gamboling the night away in a gentle digital vortex. And while Rutili's consistently wistful vocals often add an ironic gloss to his neo-Dada lyrics, they elevate the Psychic TV cover "Orchids" so effectively that Genesis P-Orridge would probably give all his piercings just to match it.