All Music. Com Review by Sean Westergaard
While their last album (Anytime at All) had about 20 players on it, this time Banyan’s Stephen Perkins stripped the band down to just it’s core: Mike Watt on bass, Nels Cline on guitar, Willie Waldman on trumpet and Perkins on drums and percussion. Throw your preconceptions out the window, these guys come on more like Miles Davis‘ early 70’s band than an indie-rock supergroup, and they make an absolutely glorious racket. The album has a very live feel to it, but Live at Perkins’ Place isn’t a live album in the classic sense; Perkins’ Place is Stephen Perkins‘ home studio, and there are clearly some overdubs and studio effects sparingly used throughout. “Mad as a Hornet” starts things out sounding like an outtake from Agharta, with Perkins doing an excellent Al Foster and Waldman‘s trumpet slurring like Miles. Watt‘s sturdy bass provides the same sort of fierce, driving bottom end as Michael Henderson, and Nels Cline‘s guitar snarls just as ferociously as Pete Cosey. “Oh My People” gets a bit more outwardly funky then leads to the slightly ominous “Om Om Om”, where Cline unleashes some wonderfully sick and otherwordly tones from his guitar and some great delay work. “El Sexxo” sounds something like MIles Davis meeting Robert Fripp in Morrocco. There isn’t a dull moment on this record, even on the solo percussion piece “Rocks Are Falling”. Perkins is a hell of a drummer, mixing it up between straight time-keeping, cool fills and great melodic elements as well, and Watt certainly knows how to operate with a busy, amazing drummer thanks to all those great years with George Hurley. Like Miles, Waldman‘s trumpet is tasty but understated, often content to let the others just play. Nels Cline is really the featured attraction here, as he gets the most solo space and also supplies some of the album’s most mind boggling moments with his incredible technique, mastery of effects and wicked guitar tones. There are moments on the album where guitarists may find themselves asking “What the hell is he doing?!” (like on “Israelite” or “King of Long Beach”. The band conjures up a variety of moods, from the dark and mysterious “El Sexxo” to the goofy rave-up “A Million Little Laughs”, closing the set in with their take on the Stooges “Fun House”. Banyan has taken their cues from the groundbreaking work of Miles Davis, but crafted an updated, more personal take on that sound. Is it Rock? Is it Jazz? Who cares, these guys can play. Recommended.