Founded in San Francisco in 1997, dissent is the creation of Gregory Howe -- a Bay Area-based producer, composer, and guitarist who is also the founder/president of the independent Wide Hive Records. Howe's dissent, whose name is spelled with a lower-case d, should not be confused with the Dissent that recorded an album titled Epitome of Democracy for the Amity label in 1994. Nor should Howe's act be pigeonholed; dissent's recordings have underscored the Northern Californian's interest in ‘70s jazz-funk as well as electronica (including downtempo, acid jazz, and trip-hop). The original import version of dissent's self-titled debut album (which was originally distributed by Time Warp) came out in 1998, although in 2001, the disc was remastered, resequenced, and distributed by Red Eye. And those who heard dissent's first album (which Howe produced) agreed that dissent was not easy to categorize. Parts of the album (which range from instrumentals to vocal offerings that feature singer Alisa Owens) are relevant to electronica, although much of dissent is mindful of ‘70s jazz-funk, though not necessarily the sort of down-home, grits-and-gravy soul-jazz that Funk, Inc., Brother Jack McDuff, Lou Donaldson, and Grover Washington, Jr. were known for, but rather, the more mysterious and abstract ‘70s efforts of Miles Davis or Herbie Hancock (whose Sextant band wasn't as commercial as his Headhunters). The first dissent album contained some samples and electronic programming, but quite often, it had a real band sound and employed real musicians, including trombonist Michael Rinta, flutist Tim Hyland, guitarist Calvin Keys, drummer Ron E. Beck (who has played with Bay Area funk/soul legends Tower of Power), and percussionist Jessy Seamore. But if dissent's first release was a band-oriented jazz-funk effort that sometimes detoured into electronica, the album that followed had more to do with electronica than jazz-funk. Released by Wide Hive in 2002, dissent's second album, Bleeding Together, is essentially electronica with hints of jazz. Bleeding Together, which sometimes features vocalist Nathalie Sanchez, doesn't have the band sound that often characterized dissent's first studio outing -- it sounds a lot more programmed and is relevant to the downtempo, trip-hop, and acid jazz scenes. The first dissent album gave a lot of space to soloists; Bleeding Together is a lot more produced. But like the first dissent release, Bleeding Together in unpredictable. For dissent, that programmed sound doesn't mean being harsh, abrasive, or forceful -- Bleeding Together favors the softer, gentler, more musical side of electronica and doesn't get into the sort of abrasive, in-your-face techno that one might expect to hear at a rave.
In addition to leading dissent, Howe has produced Wide Hive releases that include Calvin Keys' Detours into Unconscious Rhythms, Variable Unit's Seven Grain,and the self-titled debut album by DJ Zeph. ~ Alex Henderson