Like a cold bucket of water to the face, “Sphere,” the opening track on New York City bassist Steve Jenkins’ latest album, is a great indicator of what’s to come: lightning- fast slapping, unexpected turns at every corner, and a web of math-rock mastery. The oddly unique songs on Self-Titled shift temperament constantly; even the calmer moments, on tracks like “How About Never” and “Universe,” morph through time signatures and key changes like a moody teenager. The common denominators, however, are the world-class musicians (including Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and 50 Cent/Matisyahu drummer Adam Deitch) and the midrange punch of Jenkins’ bass.
An exciting ride from front to back, Self-Titled is a showcase for Jenkins’ wealth of bass techniques, his wide variety of tones, and his ability to smoothly jump from fusion solos to metal riff age, sometimes all in the span of one song. To achieve all this without the pretentiousness of the typically egotistical “bass album” is quite a feat, but it’s no surprise: Who’d expect something this weird and intriguing to be categorized as typical, anyway?