Album Review

Floored by Four, 'Floored by Four'

October 4, 2010

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Floored by Four is the avant-garde punk-jazz quartet of bass guitarist Mike Watt (who’s the leader here), guitarist Nels Cline, electronic musician Yuka Honda, and drummer Dougie Bowne. You know all these folks. Watt was in the Minutemen and fIREHOSE. Cline, a leading free-jazz guitarist, is now a member of Wilco. Honda, half of the duo Cibo Matto, has credits that range from Dave Douglas to the Beastie Boys. Bowne has worked with Iggy Pop and the Lounge Lizards. In other words, these four, together, can do just about anything. On their eponymous debut, they do anything they like. They can lock into a tight rocking number for four minutes and then do a 180 and ruminate thoughtfully for 19 minutes. They can also make one hell of a racket. “Nels’’ (each of the four tracks is named for a band member) begins with atonal combat between Cline’s guitar and Honda’s computer before Watt and Bowne stomp on in and establish a thick groove. Elsewhere, forms as disparate as prog-rock and ambient take root. “Floored by Four’’ doesn’t swing like jazz, it doesn’t conform to rock norms, but it’s not off-the-hook free improv, either. It’s the place where “Bitches Brew’’ meets Sonic Youth. (Out now) STEVE GREENLEE