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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Vijay Iyer + Mike Ladd

By Matt Cibula
Published June 22, 2007

Still Life With Commentator
Savoy Jazz

On their second collaboration together, jazz pianist/composer Iyer and rapper/poet/activist Ladd team up to denounce virtually everything in modern life, especially the media. This often takes the form of free-form electronic rant-pieces like “Edward L. Bernays Flies The Hindenburg,” on which Iyer comes up with a shifty, sneaky groove to frame Ladd’s abstract outbursts. Other pieces, like the hyperactive glossolalia of “Fox ’N’ Friends” or the tragic, Eno-esque wash of “Blog Mom’s Anthem,” go even further afield in search of profundity, daring to fail (the former) or triumph (the latter) on their own terms. If you are allergic to pretension, stay far away—you won’t last past lines like “The Home Secretary has a lemon fresh scent.” But Iyer always seems to come up with new ideas, and many of them are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Those who can suspend a little bit of disbelief will find this a wonderful, if challenging, album.