Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage: Momentum (CD, 61:46) Mondo Congo Records MCR-0123, 1997 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cyberhome: http://www.batten.com/ Tribal Rage is Jennifer Batten on guitars, guitar synth, keys, talk box, and dentist drill guitar, Ricky Wolking on bass (fretted and non), talk box, and other bizzare sound manipulations, with Glen Sobel doing drums and percussion. And what is all this fuss over Batten about?
She is amazingly fluid, so many tricks up her sleeve, so many voicings, techniques, and sheer bombast that you are overwhelmed with what torture and delicate touch she lays on a guitar. Slapping, tapping, bending, pulling off, hammer ons, slides -- and with both hands! Throwing in a Whammy pedal when all her hands are too busy, she then creates so much wailing, swooping, and mutiple harmonics, that your aural dynamic sense nears overload. The effect is one steady onslaught of unique sounds you thought guitarists could only offer in tidbits, in certain moments, for lead breaks, at song intros or outros. Yet Batten constructs a whole CD’s worth of magical moments of a guitar doing things you rarely hear. She goes beyond Vai’s insane excursions and tops it off by tipping her hat and then running past Satriani’s finer weirdness. This lady is an artist crafting a whole new dimension of guitar sounds, weaving it all together into song, and best of all it works. Her music is not endless backflips or clowning around -- Batten hears another land’s strange echoes and offers a curiously interesting reply. With her Tribal Rage crew at her side a world of wonder unfolds. Seven quality cuts ranging from 7:10 to 9:33 let the whole crew stretch. There is some seriously cool bass work and severely challenging percussion happening here as well. Batten has toured with big names like Jeff Beck and Michael Jackson. So what does Jeff Beck think of her playing? Beck says, “Incredible stuff, very impressive. She’s very dedicated. I just see her in her little house somewhere, doing nothing else. Because you can’t get that good unless you do.” I have to agree. As guitar fans would easily recognize Holdsworth’s, Torn’s, or Rypdal’s guitar voice-- Batten’s flexible-axe voice is a clear signature. I must say I’ve never heard anyone do anything quite like Batten’s continuous stream of note-bending, tapping, swells, controlled feedback, harmonics, and lightning-fast riffs. Prepare to enter into another dimension of guitar where elasticity is the word. Recommended listening. ~ John W. Patterson
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