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M'Lumbo: Popular Science

M'Lumbo is the name of a 9-piece group from New York who formed in the late 1980s. I can honestly say I've never heard anything quite like them. I'd never even heard of them before this so a little research was necessary. Bandcamp is a revolutionary website and bands often add genre "tags" to the site to offer the public something to search for or identify with so I went there first. Then, when I listened to the first CD of Popular Science (live in-studio) I heard every tag they've listed: african, electronic, rock, techno, industrial, jazz, jazz and improvised music, psychedelic, tribal. Nine genres for nine band members?

Reading the track list of CD 1 I was surprised; Hawaii 5-0? Beat It? Peter Gun? The Pink Panther? Sesame Street?! I begain to wonder how serious they were. These classic TV show themes sound full and authentic but after the first ninety seconds "Hawaii 5-0" busts into a different tempo, includes many spoken word samples, features a world-beat rhythm, and multiple solos by many instruments; it sounds like a total party. Half-way through the 11-plus minute track an electronica drum-and-bass beat kicks in, the TV show theme is restated, and another jaunt into jazz-rock jamming is underway. A breakdown occurs around nine minutes and the samples mention zombies and a Miles Davis-styled muted trumpet solo happens over tribal drumming. The theme is played again and we reach the end.

This band is like an electro/acoustic psychedelic orchestra. Electronic beats with guitars and a horn section slide into a free jazz section with hand drums and midi-guitar and piano. And this is just a portion of the 15 minute "Sesame Street." Think cinema verite for your ears.

Hop over to the 2nd CD which was recorded live in concert and you get more highly-sensatized sound-collages with slightly different energy. "When It Was Now" seems to be a sound painting akin to the free jazz of the 60s with many layers dipping in and out but with the addition of samples. "Unconscious Forces" is another lengthy journey with many layers and segments.

If you've ever seen the painting of Jean-Michel Basquiat and other neo-expressionists you know what my mind sees when I'm listening to M'Lumbo. Some familiar images that are surrounded by washes of color in different intensities, patterns, and combinations. This should probably be filed under jazz but it is about nine times that. Some could say there is too much going on but the colors and textures are all part of the whole and it is all quite amazing. An opportunity to hear something with each listen is guaranteed. Check out the contributors and their instruments:

Robbie Ray Flateau: Electronic Keyboards Percussion Ectoplasmic Radio Suitcase Symphonetta Voice
Paul-Alexandre Meurens: Tenor Sax Bass Clarinet Electronic Sound Effects Flutes
Cecil Young: Trumpet Percussion Voice
Vin Veloso: Alto & Soprano Sax Piano Flute
Brian O'Neill: Guitar Percussion
Jaz Sawyer: Drums
Dehran Duckworth: Congas Percussion Voice
Jarek Szczyglak: Laptop Ectoplasmic Radio
Maureen O'Connor: Congas Percussion Squeaky Toys
Special Guests:
Jane Ira Bloom: Soprano Saxophone Electronics (On Tracks 1,3,4,8,12 & 18)
Page Hamilton (Helmet): Guitar (On Tracks 1,2, 4, 6 & 8)
Gary Lucas: Guitar (On Tracks 14 & 19)

Track Listing
CD 1 (Live In Studio)
1. Hawaii 5-0 11:15
2. Beat It 5:42
3. The James Bond Theme 9:57
4. Rock Around the Clock 7:10
5. Peter Gunn 7:18
6. The Pink Panther 9:25
7. The Theme from The Andy Griffith Show 6:01
8. Sesame Street

CD 2 (Live In Concert)
1. I'm An American 4:29
2. The James Bond Theme 5:46
3. Grand Funk Railroad 5:53
4. When It Was Now 8:34
5. Medley: All This Is True/Brainspotting/This IS The Other Place/Always Looking Forward To Tomorrow 9:13
6. Beat It 6:03
7. Godless Americans 6:14
8. It 4:29
9. Big Plans 7:36
10 Unconscious Forces 9:34
11. Peter Gunn 6:19

Added: April 28th 2014
Reviewer: Ryan Good
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2177
Language: english

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