Review: Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra’s Reel to Reel

Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra: Reel to ReelShawn Lee’s Ping Pong OrchestraReel to Reel (Ubiquity, 7/17/12)



What would a month be without another release from über-instrumentalist Shawn Lee? Okay — his releases aren’t quite monthly, but with his Tabla Rock release in January, this “cine-funk” installment, and next week’s self-evidently themed Synthesizers in Space — not to mention another upcoming album with AM — 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the (guy in the) tiger (mask).

The latest in Lee’s solo albums (quick aside: each of this year’s are credited differently) is, as mentioned, another self-described cine-funk odyssey. The “Ping Pong Orchestra” releases, though wildly assorted, fall under this general theme, and fans of said aesthetic or funky “library” music will not be disappointed.

Yet even for a man as eclectic and talented as Lee, a few tracks on Reel to Reel tend toward being nondescript. But there are plenty of standouts, from the road-ready “Biker Chick” (including a five-second “metal” breakdown) to the slinky “Spy Seduction.” Penultimately, “Piano Milano” offers a semi-sad instrumental ballad, before “Song for Ennio” closes with a spot-on Italian-western homage.

As usual, no two tracks are the same, and that’s half the fun. Whether you’re new to Lee’s massive catalog or fully immersed, Reel to Reel has something for you.

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