Recording information: Fastback Studios, Seattle, WA (01/2010); Galapagos, New York, NY (01/2010); Le Poisson Rouge, New York, NY (01/2010); The Bell House, New York, NY (01/2010); Fastback Studios, Seattle, WA (12/2009); Galapagos, New York, NY (12/2009); Le Poisson Rouge, New York, NY (12/2009); The Bell House, New York, NY (12/2009).
Editor: Steve Rossiter.
Photographer: Noah Kalina.
Unclassifiable but somewhere between a standup comedian and a performance artist, Reggie Watts is a master of both the absurd and the human voice. Why $#!+ So Crazy? -- and don't get your hopes up, that question isn't answered -- is a freaky, funny blend of Andy Kaufman-type jokes and Bobby McFerrin-styled voice work, but Watts has technology on his side and creates these layered voice pieces with the help of looping machines and samplers. The results are stunning as strange jokes ("What did the very busy New York squirrel say to the non-caring postal worker?") or goofy audience participation bits ("Tuck Tuck Squirrel") explode and crumble into striking, weird bits of audio art. He achieves this by using a sampler to catch the last sentence, last word, or last noise to come out of his mouth before manipulating and/or piling on more vocal tracks with the last layer always being done live. With this method he creates otherworldly soundscapes or maybe the sound of a five-man a cappella group that interprets reggae tunes. Whatever the end product, it's always amusing, often amazing, and filled with details and observations that anchor all the silliness. Still, it should be said that this is the Comedy Central label's most "avant" release to date and nothing like the man's earlier, more traditional music-based efforts, either solo or with his band Maktub. Watts isn't for everyone, but fans of the fringe -- be it comedy, music, or the performing arts -- will be thrilled by this groundbreaking album. ~ David Jeffries