Depth Charge

Sadhappy - Depth Charge ©1992 Periscope Records
1. Wendy's Pumpkin
2. Beautiful Carol
3. D-lab
4. Everyone Thinks I'm An Asshole (but I'm Really Just A Skull Bongo)
5. Full-on North
6. Depth Charge
7. Nemo's Diary - Day On
8. ?

The earlier years of Washington's Sadhappy featured a somewhat different lineup than their current two bassist/one drummer maelstrom of rhythm. Back in those days, the band brandished saxophonist Skerik as the counterpart to the rhythm section of drummer Evan Schiller and bassist Paul Hinklin. Depth Charge displays easily one of the most immediately enjoyable and warm sonic approaches, with a wonderful production that opens up the sound of the band to its fullest potential. Much of the music here is essentially jam material, with quite soulful sax working its way in and around the often progressive and sometimes funky rhythms. Unlike, say, a John Zorn freakout fest, Sadhappy's style is very palatable and digestible. And more importantly, the music doesn't fall completely into "talented musician jam hell" as the songs are just that. Songs. None of this comes off as people showing off just how proficient they are on their instruments. If you aren't tittilated by the smooth section in the midst of "D-Lab" or impressed by the echoing and expansive sounding "Full-On North", I worry greatly about the relationship you have with your ears. While more recent Sadhappy albums have impressed me to a higher degree, Depth Charge is a unique outing that is very worthy of tracking down.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2000

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Good Day Bad Dream

Sadhappy - Good Day Bad Dream ©1997 Periscope Records
1. Hammering Man
2. Maintenence Pissed
3. Lacheesis Muta
4. Oscar Wins The Lottery
5. Lost In Bass
6. II B.s.
7. False Information
8. Honeymoon Deathbed
9. Home Lobotomy Kit
10. Sbd
11. The Kitchen Sink
12. Oscar Gets Laid
13. Oscar Goes Drinking
14. Chronic Subsonic Tonic
15. The Death Of Webern

That was quite dumb of me. After all, I just excluded some amazing music from life for the past two years. Note to self: listen to bass playing friend's recommendations from now on.

Sadhappy is a unique Seattle trio that features two bass players, including Michael Manring (who joined up for this album, replacing their longtime sax player Skerik) who has such minor accomplishments as Bass Player of the Year (1994, Bass Player Magazine) under his belt. The sound these three create is an amazing brew of King Crimson meets jazz meets ambient meets trip meets MC 900 Ft. Jesus. The majority of this album is instrumental, but the band spices up a few tracks with spoken narratives or strange outbursts from a their street bum turned lottery winner Oscar character. The music is a very hard to describe blend of looping and groove infested bass nimbletry (if that is not a real word, it is now) created by a variety of tuning and studio mastery, which takes me to another point. The sound on this album is deep, wide and very enveloping, one of the best productions I've heard in music. Though the two basses take very different paths in the music, everything has its place. One track, entitled "The Kitchen Sink", apparently has nearly fifty bass overdubs.

Highlights are plenty on this disc. "Maintenence Pissed" aptly encapsulates Sadhappy's current sound, being one of the gripping instrumental works I can recall right offhand. "False Information" features one of their amusing narratives about essentially the essence of being a human, told in a very dry, plainative way that works greatly to their advantage. "Hammering Man" opens in the album in much the same way.

Good Day Bad Dream has been very much glued to my CD player ever since I came across it. This is a band that everyone who likes prog rock, bass or ambient/atmospheric rock needs to find and find immediately. Sadhappy is one of the most unpretensious, fulfilling and enjoyable bands I've heard in a good number of years. To sum up: wow.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2000

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Sadhappy - Outerspaces ©2005 Periscope Records
1. Pretty Please
2. Alicia
3. Nightmare At Guitar Center
4. Aerocar Vs The Sweet Tines
5. Wide Steaming River Of Molasses
6. Easy As Pie
7. Raga
8. Aunt Myrtle Ties One On At The Starlight Lounge
9. Whale Of A Time
10. Shadow
11. Abduction Part 1
12. Abduction Part 2
13. Stop The Car...Now!
14. Womb To The Tomb

It's been, as they say, a whole truckload of blue moons since the last Sadhappy release. During that time, longtime bassist Paul Hinklin left the band and remaining members Evan Schiller and Michael Manring recruited former Zappa guitarist Mike Keneally to provide extra strings to the new album. Perhaps there is is some sordid drama behind the change in lineup. In fact, I could easily make up a story here that'll stick, but now that I live in Seattle, it's probably safer to stick to the facts in case Evan happens to run across me in a dark alley.

Speaking of dark alleys, Outerspaces is a trip through a cosmic dark alley. (Goddamn, that was a smooth segue!) The New Sadhappy eschews some of easier to digest bass grooves of previous releases for an album that is truly a headphone treat. Suffice it to say that a reviewer such as myself (you know, total fraud/hack) doesn't necessarily have the language to describe what I'm hearing. The music goes from free-form jazz (not traditional by any means, or even jazz, but you get what I'm saying) to ambient meanderings to spaced out sounds. Evan Schiller said it took quite a long period of time in the mixing room for this album and one listen will demonstrate that very well. This is not the sort of album that can be sussed out on a single listen. And if it was, well, you know you just bought the new Slayer CD by accident. I've spun this quite a few times and each listen brings out a new facet that I didn't hear before.

Fans of Manring wishing to hear the man in a musical tangent or fans of trippy instrumental madness are well advised to check out this album. Give yourself some time to assimilate what you hear. Unlike many releases today, Outerspaces requires some dedicated listening time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2006

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