(The) Radical Love Frequency
John Staedler is exponentially more interesting than your typical rocker. The saxophonist, songwriter, guitarist, singer, philosopher and poet has the inclination and guts to kick all music formulas to the curb, instead twisting threads of rock, reggae, psychedelia, tribal, jazz, theatrics and gumption to places they’ve never been. (The) Radical Love Frequency is the title of both this double-CD and the band that plays on it—bassist/vocalist Lara Ullery, drummer Robert Smith and various other Chico characters. Opening track “Filled With Light” is a bit awful and plenty magical at the same time, with a groovy ’60s art-rock vibe mixing with dissonant vocal phrasings that make the song almost sound like a parody of itself. But the precedent is set: This CD is weird but interesting. And just when you think you’ve got his mind figured out, Staedler tosses out a 9 1/2-minute version of George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” with Staedler’s space-aged sax melding sweetly with Sarah Spencer’s haunting vocals. The 33-minute “There’s Nothing to Be Afraid Of” is a colorfully epic pipe dream that includes 20 minutes of feedback. The crowning achievement here is the joyous “Live Life Today” video featured on disc 2, in which Staedler morphs from his shirt-and-tie office cubicle of captivation to carefree dancing across a meadow.