Critically acclaimed as one of the most creative, imaginative and talented guitarists on the planet and always at the forefront of technology Jennifer Batten returns for her third solo album in the captivating sonic tapestry of “Whatever”.
Released as a dual pack of CD & DVD the album is described in style by Jennifer herself as “guitronica”. The album possesses plenty of guitar, but “Whatever” is heavily multi textured with a plethora of sounds and vocal samples, and has a humorous thread throughout. The music is also influenced by various ethnic cultures such as the African vibe in “Off the Deep End”.
On the albums creation Jennifer comments, “Originally I started writing a lot of these tracks for Jeff Beck when I was in his band. My third CD has been long over due so in the end I’m happy to have these tracks for myself! He got me interested in electronica and I’m very happy to have that as a new direction with all the amazing inspiring sounds available today.”
The included DVD breaks down each video track with a commentary track by Jennifer which has formed the brief synopsis of each track below.
Jennifer describes the album as “‘sort of’ instrumental. There are vocal samples telling stories in most songs, but not the standard song type lyrics and melodies. I played and programmed most of the CD with the exception of having a few guests.”
“Ass Whoopin'” is a hip hop track featuring the other guitarist (Jon Clark) on Michael Jackson’s Bad Tour, using a comedic spoken word character that he often used in 1988 during the tour I was on with him. He tells a story of the frustrations of buying electronics in the modern age. For the second solo I trigger an organ sound with the guitar synth which came out very jazz flavoured just due to the sound I used. The melody is very bendy and snakey.
“Ricochet” is an experimental soundscape starting with distorted drums and a multitude of guitar sounds, techniques, and textures. It’s a quirky love song.
“Off the Deep End” is a very African influenced flavor with a vocal chant from a tribe of little kids in the intro. It’s a mix of tribal groove and dreamy breathy synth with Andre Berry’s “Jaco-esque” bass feel. The breakdown goes into a story spoken by Debbie Schepp (I’m a sucker for the British accent). I purposely left the story a little vague so the listener could imagine any of a variety of situations that she was describing.
“Whatever” brings the record back to Los Angeles and gives a pathetic tribute to the cultural degradation in the language of the modern youth. They use the word “whatever” to replace most words in the language, due to laziness. The song makes use of various samples of people and accents saying “whatever”. The focus is on total nonsense surrounded by melody and a whacky guitar solo.
“Fearless” is my first endeavour back to the acoustic guitar after many years exclusively with electric only. The guitar is in an odd tuning and I have no idea what any of the notes are. It was just written from sound, which is very freeing.
“Hooligan’s Holiday” is a lyric-less conversation between the guitar and the vocal riffs from the singer. It’s a sonic experiment starting with samples of the horrible ground buzz I was having in the studio at the time. I decided to just use the noise and make it musical and percussive in the intro rather than just give up until I could get an engineer in to fix it.!
“In the Aftermath” is the CD’s compositional highlight for me and the first ballad I’ve written. It feels like a spiritual adventure that takes you on a sensual journey.
“Run With It” is focused on samples from Herman Begay, a native American singer. It begins with native flute and also blends instruments from East Indians as well.
“Cupid’s Arrow” is the story of my best friend getting married while I was on tour. I sampled his story of the wedding after my return and used the best bits for this love story. There are lots of quirky sounds with a surprise ending.
“Inner Journey” may well be the launching pad for this record. The percussion is based on body noise samples. This is the comedic highlight of the CD with a whacky video to match. Though the title “Inner Journey” sounds like a spiritual endeavour, it’s more like the inner journey your body takes in digestion. Most female recording artists use body parts to promote their music, which has been done to death, and I find that’s quite lacking in imagination! I prefer a more creative shocking attention grabbing angle.