From weird wandering to heavy riffage, Tinnitus Rex have you covered on new album 'Heart Meat'

Don't call them a jam band, OK?

click to enlarge Don't call Tinnitus Rex a jam band, OK? - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Don't call Tinnitus Rex a jam band, OK?
The term “jam band” is so fraught with bad baggage that even calling Orlando quintet Tinnitus Rex a high-concept version of one just doesn’t feel right. OK, so let’s say they’re a freeform rock band. More specifically, they’re an experimental improv group, though not in an is-this-even-music free-jazz kinda way.

In fact, their music has remarkable intelligibility and structure for an open-ended band. Most importantly, though, their grooving shares more DNA with heavy music than any traditional jam band.

In the three years that they’ve released music, Tinnitus Rex have quickly amassed a sizable catalog, the vast majority of which are Bandcamp releases of rehearsal recordings. Recently, however, they did a broader, more formal release of new album Heart Meat. Their rather good live recordings have never exactly been fast-and-dirty garage sessions, but Heart Meat is on another sonic level altogether.

While the album was recorded at Winter Park’s Castle Door Studios like their usual rehearsals, Heart Meat is a notably better-produced work, with overdubs and additional mixing. The result is a more finished, resonant and immersive experience. Tinnitus Rex’s live takes are already absorbing, but the extra finishing here makes their sonic journeys even more enveloping.

From weird wandering to heavy riffage, the extended instrumental odysseys cover terrain that spans psych, desert rock, post-rock, stoner rock, space rock, krautrock and even borderline noise. Thankfully, though, their hypnotic jamming is much more about voyaging than wanky indulgence.

What the well-crafted Heart Meat especially underscores is the collective unity that Tinnitus Rex bring to the musical improvisation game. They harness the wild spontaneity of improv, but it plays out atop a solid, sometimes hulking foundation. Whether that’s by instinct or design, it pays dividends in listenability, which means you don’t have to be an experimental-music freak to dig it.

Heart Meat now streams everywhere. But this weekend, you can experience Tinnitus Rex live, which even the bulk of their recordings suggest is their most natural state. (8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 27, Ten10 B-Side, no cover)

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