Quodia is a project from Joe Mendelson and Trey Gunn. Trey has been playing with KC for quite a few years now when he took the position of Tony Levin holding down the bass work. He plays a Touch Guitar made by Mark Warr, similar in sound to the perhaps more popular Chapman Stick that Tony plays. Joe is an experimental performance artist slash musician playing keyboards and electronic percussion. He has built a big following in his native New York with his various endeavors.
This is percussive, rhythmic music in a style of latter-day King Crimson (of course), Talking Heads (Eno period), and Laurie Anderson. The more experimental solo works from other Crimson members like Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp come to mind as well. Most songs feature spoken tone poems based in American Indian mythology. Words are primarily spoken by Trey, but not rhythmically in the style of rap music. More like a constant drone that moves to the back of your mind rather than the front. It seems you pickup the stories after the fact (as it moves through to the front) and more as a complete whole this way.
The instrumentation used on songs like “Thick and Thorny,” and the beginning of “The First Sign.” bring a marvelous world music texture in their rhythmic complexity. A favorite of mine is “I Saw Two Hands,” where the whole marriage of poetry, rhythm, and myth really works for me. Of course, Joe and Trey don’t do this all alone. They have an all-star cast of musicians and orators helping them throughout the ample time featured on this CD.
The package comes as a two-disc set that also includes the DVD of the backing media presentation used in the live shows. A collection of various colors, shapes, and objects with occasional exclamatory text, all meant to be projected behind Trey and Joe as they play. It is interesting at times, but would have been much more interesting with the band performing in front of them.
I’m a bit mixed about this project. I think that I would have really enjoyed a live presentation of this. At times while just listening to it at home however, I sometimes want to hear more instrumental work and less voice. Nothing wrong with the music, Quodia hits great heights in quality at times. Perhaps the droning style of speaking rather than singing does not always succeed for me.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 20th, 2008