Dredg has never been shy about taking risks. The Bay Area quartet's music is heavy with prog signifiers, but Dredge is usually game for anything: a little synth-rock here, a little noir psychedelia there. It felt curiously appropriate when the band announced it would be working with Dan the Automator for its fifth album, Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy. Dan specializes in "alternative" hip-hop — he was one-third of super-group Deltron 3030 and has worked with Kool Keith, Gorillaz, and Mike Patton — but he brings an unaffected sensibility to his work with Dredg. Tracks such as "The Tent" sound like blaxploitation-era funk wrung through a garbage disposal, while "Kalathat" takes a subversively minimalist approach. Dredg is a hard band to pin down. It's a testament to their distaste for predictability that no one can figure out who they sound like (a more streamlined Tool? A more decipherable Radiohead?). While many fans seem to agree that 2002's El Cielo captured Dredg at its zenith, the band has struck a deep chord with each album by combining healthful introspection with haunting melodic runs. Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy got a cooler reception, but its trancelike sense of atmosphere and busy, surreally rendered melodies are tough to shake.
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