Friday, February 3, 2012

Animation: Asiento & Agemo

Animation (group)
Asiento/Agemo (RareNoise Records; 2011)
Bob Belden (sax)
Tim Hagans (trumpet)
DJ Logic (electronics, turntables)
Guy Licata (drums)
Scott Kinsey (keyboards)
Matt Garrison (bass)

There have a been a few Miles electric-era inspired records in the last few years. Spanning Mark Isham, Bill Laswell, and Wadda Leo Smith to name just a few. All of these are excellent records and we've discussed a few in the past. But one group that seems to manage this material better than most is Animation. This sextet was originally formed by Bob Belden and Tim Hagans back in the late '90s where they recorded two exciting albums (Imagination and Re-Animation Live) for Blue Note. Well worth checking out.

As for Asiento, this is a live re-interpretation/reinvention of Bitches Brew that sounds and feels more organic than the two previous Animation albums. The music is exquisitely played and while you may want to immediately compare this with the original Miles Bitches Brew album it really doesn't make a lot of sense. "Pharaoh's Dance" has a trippy-er almost Future Sound Of London or mid-period Orb feel to it.

Each member stands out on multiple levels here. Hagans trumpet is heavier and dense on "Bitches Brew" while being wrapped in some cosmic linear passages from Kinsey and Licata. Belden's performance is killer with some really swirling, psychedelic melody. "Spanish Key" is awesome with a real dose of "drum and bass" which transforms the piece and makes it almost unrecognizable from the original.

Agemo is the expected and well deserved remix of the album over two discs. While the first disc is not drastically different, the mix adds a touch of midtempo range to Asiento versions thanks to the same production company that sound mixed the Orb's Metallic Spheres release. And in the case of "Spanish Key," transform it into a more raucous affair. On "Bitches Brew," Belden, Garrison and Hagans all seem to get a rising emphasis in this mix.

The keyboards were always hauntingly beautiful on the Asiento version but on tracks like "John McLaughlin" they feel very much in tune with the dream-like state of Miles originally conjured up four decades ago. "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" retains the acid blues vibe it always had. Here it's driven more by Hagans and DJ Logic whom both create a sweet counterpoint that is stunning, screaming out of the stereo as well as the headphones.

The second disc really transforms into something different. Spanning dub, ambient and dance. "Bitches Brew" gets a weird and highly interesting dub reggae beat. "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" turns into a funky orbital trip psych-out. And "Sanctuary" becomes an even slower hypnotic trance of a piece. Expertly done mixes by the likes of Bill Laswell, Joe Claussell and DJ Logic make Agemo a superior remix album than even Laswell's Panthalassa.

Asiento and Agemo are two seriously deserving documents in the ever-expanding understanding and reinterpretation of Miles Davis' seminal statement. This is a totally different way of thinking about Bitches Brew. Animation have created two albums that stand alone from their originating base work and serve as a groovy introduction to one of the best jazz albums ever recorded.


  1. While I agree that the Agemo remixes are excellent, it's hard to make a comparison with Panthalassa. They are two different types of remixes. Panthalassa hardly being a remix so much as a reinterpretation....

  2. Hehehehe Dave, these are "Children of Panthalassa" ... Panthalassa was a "reconstruction" of original Miles stems, these are remixes of an interpretation of a particular work of Miles ... the semiotics are different ....