Medeski Martin & Wood culminate their 2-year Radiolarian Series with a comprehensive box set of material entitled Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set, which Indirecto Records will release on November 24th. The box set will include: Radiolarians I, II and III complete with bonus tracks, a 10 track disc of remixed music, a previously unreleased 70 minute live album, a double vinyl LP set consisting of highlights from the three Radiolarians albums, plus a DVD feature film entitled Fly In A Bottle directed by Billy Martin. All of the material contained in the box was written and performed by MMW specifically for The Radiolarian Series.
The Radiolarian Series, named after a type of single-celled organism with a dazzlingly intricate exoskeleton, was designed to subvert the age-old music industry cycle of write > record > tour. The trio, consisting of keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood, convened for brief writing retreats, performed only that new material on tour and recorded the material immediately after getting off the road. The band repeated this processes three times while touring in different regions of the US and South America. MMW and Indirecto Records released this music on three records that came out over the course of the past year.
"As a child, I was always interested in oceanography and marine biology. I was especially interested in plankton, phytoplankton, diatoms, all of those microorganisms in the sea. John and Chris share my passion and interest in biology and science as well" drummer Billy Martin states. It’s not surprising then that the trio instantly gravitated towards the dazzling drawings and in-depth studies of German biologist Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel’s beautiful Radiolarians drawings graced the covers of all three Radiolarians records and served as a visual inspiration for the trio’s music. Ernst Haeckel is credited with discovering and naming thousands of new species and popularizing the studies of Charles Darwin in Germany during the late 1800s.
Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set compiles Radiolarians I, II and III in the same package for the first time, and offers the addition of three previously unreleased bonus tracks "Incantation," "Satan Part II" and "Clifton." The Radiolarians records were met with widespread praise upon their release, as the trio pushed their music in new directions. Be it the more experimental sounds of "Chasen vs Suribachi", the pop-rock swagger of "Undone", the funk-lilt of "Free Go Lily" or the classical meditation of "Kota", MMW challenged themselves with ever changing forms of playing and writing. What resulted was some of the best and most advanced music of MMW’s prolific history.
Medeski Martin & Wood have hand selected tracks from the three Radiolarians albums to include on a special edition, high quality audio, double vinyl pressing. The first record in this 10-track collection of highlights, will center around MMW’s more riff-focused compositions such as "Amber Gris" and "Undone," while the second record will feature funkier tracks such as "Walk Back" and more ambient mood pieces such as "Hidden Moon." The band sought to give their fans a chance to experience the music in a superior audio format while offering the visceral physical connection that can only come through vinyl.
Complementing the vinyl will be an eight track, 70-minute live record culled from shows recorded during the Radiolarians tours, and a ten track remix CD featuring contributions from nine different DJs and producers. Mixes from Dan The Automator, DJ Spooky, DJ Logic, DJ Olive and Scott Harding, amongst other amazing DJs, demonstrate the versatility of MMW’s music as the songs range from different forms of groove and funk to accessible and edgy dance-pop songs. The live record further builds upon this versatility, as the listener is given a chance to hear the studio music fleshed out in fully formed and extended improvisations. As it was, this music was written and perfected on the road, so to hear it played live represents an essential aspect of the entire Radiolarians concept.
As an amazing finale to the entire box set, Billy Martin directed the first feature film in Medeski Martin & Wood’s history entitled Fly in a Bottle. Tirelessly working through footage of MMW in the studio and on the road, the film provides an extremely intimate portrait of the band. It highlights the trio’s intricate relationships with each other and with the music they have worked to create over their past 19 years as a band. In conjunction with Fly in a Bottle, the DVD will also include the music video for "Amber Gris", the esoteric Incant to Chantes Des Femmes directed by Grey Gersten, and an experiment with time-lapse film entitled CW. CW (directed again by Martin), is a metaphoric look at the evolving and intricate relationship between Chris Wood and John Medeski from Billy Martin’s perspective. Filmed on the tour bus, CW is set to the music of "First Light" and features excerpts of transistor radio as used in "Chasen v. Suribachi." The DVD portion of the set provides a fitting closure as fans and critics are given unprecedented access to the band during their everyday lives. It’s raw, highly personal and real.