Kenosha Kid, Dan Nettles’ elusive jazz-cum-jam project, takes its name from Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel of immense duality. In the book, the Kenosha Kid is an ambiguous figure, revealing itself as either a loner cowboy, a series of dance moves or a side effect of truth serum, depending on whom you ask. With this dizzying grip of background info in mind, you can begin to break down the curious curves and focused ambulations of Inside Voices.
The split-personality approach is made clear with “Vanishing Point,” the album’s opening track. Like a bleak, sunny vista coming into focus following a film’s title sequence, instruments fall into place, circled around a set of apprehensive but hopeful horns. Street-jazz vibes emerge from an airy melody that calls on both Moondog and Trey Anastasio for cues. As they route their way through tracks like “Fabrication” and “Liberty Bell,” Nettles and company (he’s joined by the Horns From Hell, a group of acclaimed international players) nod toward the smoky, shuffling heartbreak of a wordless Phosphorescent tune, or Grizzly Bear at their most cinematic.
The narrative shifts as Inside Voices continues. “Map of the Universe” is a looser, late-night rouse that saunters its way through murmured horns and stuttering effects. “Mushmouth” is a nimble exercise featuring sultry, wayfaring grooves; it segues with agility and reckless abandon.
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