Greg Ginn is a free man. I don't mean this in a "hey, it's a free country" kind of way. It's as if he's shaken off a lot of the baggage from times long gone, and is doing what he wants, without the psychological weight that seems to inform so much of his post-Black Flag output. This is the freedom of which I write. It must have gotten tiresome to be an open target to so much flak from his peers in Hardcore and the three or four generations/variations spawned from that scene. I like to think that he's just finally overcome all that, and is back to creating music from a much more liberated state. That conjectured, let's take a look and listen to Connecting, the debut by Jambang, Greg's latest musical project.
According to their web page, Jambang is without question a jam band. From what I know of this musical approach, the primary concern rests within a group of players using rhythm, and to a seemingly lesser extent, melody, over rather extended periods. Groove is the objective. Within these parameters, drummer Steve DeLollis does a great job. His rhythms on just about every track are downright motorik, which I think are of much more interest and effect than ham-fisted "funky" playing, an approach that makes so much jam music sort of corny. He manages to pare his playing down to a nice essentialist groove for the most part, giving the string players plenty of space in which to color said groove.
Much of the coloring of the music comes from the mandolin playing of Bobby Bancalari. He often uses his mandolin strings for an almost piano-like effect, providing tuned percussion sounds in high registers. This gives many of the songs a kind of sweet bite. Bassist Cliff Samuels stays in the background, just anchoring all of it. Jam band bassists take note! An actual team player in the rhythm section! I bet the rest of the band love him for that.
Last but not least, there's Ginn. His playing sounds really relaxed to me. Mellow? No, just not as high strung as his playing with Flag or Gone. Unlike the guitar's placement way up front in those two bands, in Jambang Ginn holds back a lot. He seems content to lead from a much more reserved place. His guitar melodies are sometimes reminiscent of lines off of Loose Nut and In My Head, and provide the main melodic thrust. They just don't sound as tension-derived as in previous Ginn recordings. Greg also provides a bit of organ and synthesizer action, but in the main sticks to leading with his newly restrained jam band riffing.
If you insist on high energy and fast pacing in your guitar music, you probably won't enjoy Connecting. It's mixed and mastered a bit too cool for those kinds of ears. However, if you're a fan of Greg Ginn's ever evolving sound, or instrumental Rock, give it a try. It's some of the catchiest music to come from SST in quite some time. I'd say just be patient and let it unfold inside your mind.