In addition to their strong musical interests, John Medeski, Billy Martin and Chris Wood share interests in biology and science. The longtime bandmates melded those interests philosophically with their latest, and perhaps most ambitious project, The Radiolarians Series. It is named after the Radiolarian, a type of single-celled marine organism with a very intricate exoskeleton.
MMW took an organic, evolutionary approach to the tour and the recordings that have resulted in Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set, which is being released November 24th by Indirecto Records.
The Radiolarians Series was designed to move away from the traditional music-industry cycle of write/record/tour in a way that would keep their music fresh. Here's how the process worked:
MMW got together for brief writing retreats, performed only that new material on tour and recorded the material immediately after getting off the road. The band repeated that process three times while touring in different regions of the United States and South America. MMW and Indirecto Records released this music on three separate CDs that came out over the course of the past year.
Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set compiles Radiolarians I, II, and III in the same package - plus three previously unreleased bonus tracks; a special edition, high quality audio, double vinyl pressing of highlights from the three Radiolarians albums; a 10-track disc of remixed music featuring contributions from nine different DJs and producers; a previously unreleased 70-minute live album; and a Billy Martin-directed DVD feature film entitled Fly In A Bottle. That's quite an ambitious boxed set.
German biologist Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel’s beautiful Radiolarians drawings were featured on the covers of all three Radiolarians records - and were a visual inspiration for the trio’s music throughout the project. Haeckel is credited with discovering and naming thousands of new species and popularizing the studies of Charles Darwin in Germany during the late 1800s.
You can call this a musical salute to evolution... as Medeski, Martin and Wood pushed its music in new, experimental directions - energized by new challenges rather than tiring after 19 years together.