Mick Karn is a bass player of astonishing talent and creativity, but rarely has he cut loose and really played out. "The Tooth Mother" seems to have been designed to put an end to that-- track to track, the bass playing is stunning, up front and in your face, taking center stage supported largely by guitarist David Torn, drummer Gavin Harrison, and Jakko Jaksyzk on any number of instruments as well as appearances by Natacha Atlas, Steven Wilson, and Richard Barbieri.
Like I said, fiery bass playing is the recipe of the day on this one, and when it works, it works well-- "Thundergirl Mutation", "Plaster the Magic Tongue", "Feta Funk" and "Little - Less Hope" (in particular) are all brilliant composition revolving around jaw dropping playing-- they also show a clear Turkish/Grecian influence in their composition, an idea that is more than a little helped along by Atlas' guest vocal spot on "Thundergirl Mutation" and "Feta Funk". The album closer "There Was Not Anything But Nothing" is not really bass-driven (although there is some fantastic playing in it), but rather is horn driven and has some great guitar work from Torn and really is a fantastic composition-- in case there was doubt Karn could do it without his bass up front, this pushes that aside.
There is some material that doesn't quite live up to -- "Lodge of Skins" is a straightforward and somewhat lifeless piece saved only by the fractured Torn guitar under Atlas' wordless vocal on the bridge, "Gossip's Cup" and "The Tooth Mother" mix the bass way in front, but neither composition is as engaging as other material on the record.
Even with its mild flaws, this is a great album, particularly for fans of fantastic bass playing. And its all quite listenable, even when not fully engaging.