Over the past decade, Mike Dillon has released a number of acclaimed albums, intertwining a range of influences from Zappa-esque eccentricity to Fishbone punk funk, DC Go-Go to Milt Jackson-influenced vibraphone majesty. Never before, however, has he recorded music so personal and committed to a sustained mood as his latest album, Functioning Broke. The recording finds Dillon alone on vibraphone and various percussion, building each track into its own minimalist, but multi-dimensional auditory landscape.

The choice of material distinguishes the collection even further as he reimagines six Elliott Smith compositions, including “Behind The Bars,” “Christian Brothers” and “Independence Day,” Neil Young’s “The Needle & The Damage Done,” Martin Denny’s “The Enchanted Sea” as well as four originals, among them “Chimp & Flower” and “Tabla Goodnight.” Intent on serene splendor and informed by songs that speak to the highs and lows of Dillon’s tireless pursuit of his muse and craft, the record is destined to attract even more people into the fold of one this generation’s most consistently compelling musicians.

“I had been playing around with Elliott Smith songs as I enjoyed the harmonic movement of his songwriting. So in between Primus tours last year, I went into the studio and started tracking the various members of the mallet and percussion family—marimba, xylophone, timpani, orchestral bells, tubular bells, tabla and congas,” explains Dillon about the genesis of the album. “We got together every couple of months and would layer the instruments as the song demanded. What I originally thought was a fun little side project quickly became something that my pals said I should complete and release as a proper album.”

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Kevin Calabro
Royal Potato Family