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Threat Level 3

Orange Alert (XART Audio)

Feb. 22, 2009
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Neither the name of the band nor the album connotes any danger from Homeland Security. Instead, Threat Level 3 turns their Orange Alert into electro-acoustic free jazz meditations on world music. Ex-Milwaukeeans Billy X. Curmano and John Pendergast pluck, strum and bow their stringed and keyed instruments as Minnesotan Steve Smith blows tenor sax and didgeridoo. The inclusion of ocean harp, Zimbabwean mbira and trippy electric dulcimer makes for textures harsh enough for intentional listening yet unobtrusive enough for background ambience or avant-garde soundtracks.

One piece accompanied by a spoken-word love poem of ambiguous sincerity makes for a dry-humor hoot. Even more engaging, however, are the rickety samba grooves appearing on a couple of pieces. This album is not for smooth-fusion fans by a long stretch, but for those with ears to hear, Threat Level 3 make advanced music theory and dissonance fun.


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