The Grassy Knoll
Electric Verdeland Vol. 1 (Electric Verde)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., June 19, 2015
A decade-plus has passed since Nolan "Bob" Green put out a Grassy Knoll recording, but there's no conspiracy at work. Civilian life simply got in the way. That long absence gives Electric Verdeland Vol. 1 the kind of fizz that comes from long-suppressed creativity uncorked. Multi-instrumentalist Green still composes uniquely contradictory instrumental noir – mysterious yet melodic, lush but knotty, earthy while atmospheric. Mixing live instrumentation provided by Vernon Reid, Jesse Dayton, Li'l Cap'n Travis' Jeff Johnston, and more, with samples and electro grooves is hardly a new idea, but Green's expert blend of progressive fusion and trip-hop makes "The Kids Want a Little Action" and "The Definitive Manifesto for Handling Haters" fresh. Also setting Verdeland apart from the rest of the catalog: vocals on a Knoll recording. James Rotondi, Laura Scarborough, and Jon Dee Graham provide short phrases and sound bites rather than full sets of lyrics, giving "Voluptuous Misery," "Rain Rain Down," and "Something Together" hooks that don't challenge the music. Balancing conceptual imagination with easy appeal, Electric Verdeland Vol. 1 emanates a dream state before the coming dawn.