Drop That Acid Again
Nobody’s quite sure if Iranian-born guitarist Aram Danesh, surrounded by a bunch of anonymous Bay Area musicians dubbed the Super Human Crew, really lit a torch for acid jazz. What’s certain is that during the course of the Crew’s debut album The Spot, Danesh tried conjuring the ghosts of the Brand New Heavies and Ronny Jordan only to find those acts are still alive, just not well.The Spot painfully points out the weaknesses of the genre. “Sem Contencao (The Rhythm Will Conquer)” exemplifies the overproduction pushing the “jazz” of it towards soft jazz and the “acid” of it towards, uh, something not danceable. The Crew also betray the acid jazz formula of hip-hop plus a live band; despite their claim that “all hip-hop is underground / But it’s not six feet,” tracks like “Elastic” suggest otherwise, with lyrical flow circa 1988.
If you leave The Spot on long enough and pay it no attention, parts might actually start to sneak up on you. Of particular interest to Muzak programmers: “Le Chat Noir,” with its serviceable groove, and a straightforward reading of Bebel Gilberto”s “Mais Feliz.” We then return to songs like “I Did It,” where the Crew gather up the genre’s poo in order to polish it.
Everything about bandleader Danesh and his Super Human Crew is wishy-washy — heck, Danesh himself often gets wallflowery, his arrangements affording us 30 seconds at a time to hear him get his wannabe Santana on. The Spot brands acid jazz not so much as the redheaded stepchild of any musical form, but as an underachieving foster child passed from musical family to family.