NOMO: Invisible Cities (2009)
Invisible Cities visits a lot of territory in its relatively brief 42-minute run time. "Elijah" is a swirling, modal Africa Brass-style freeform overture that precedes "Nocturne," which features NOMO's signature electric kalimba on top of a steady bass line, vocalizing over the drums and a hazy guitar coming out of the shadows. "Waiting" and "Patterns" are classic funk workouts, offering hot soloing and steady rhythmic vamping, while "Crescent" and "Banners on High" turn down the gas and set the mood via soothing flutes and gentle Rhodes keyboards.
The decision to remake Tom Ze's "Ma" comes across as particularly inspired statement of purpose. Ze was at the forefront of Brazil's Tropicalia movement in the late 1960s, but his music quickly became unclassifiable, marked by Afro-Brazilian beats, folk forms, homemade instruments, musical erudition and a general unwillingness to conform. NOMO's cover is faithful to the original, with leader and chief songwriter Elliot Bergman's warm-jet bass clarinet offsetting the sharp plinking of synth noise as the melodic lines of the horn section and dreamy soundscape vocals worm their way into your head.
Track Listing: Invisible Cities; Bumbo; Waiting; Crescent; Patterns; Ma; Banners on High; Elijah; Nocturne.
Personnel: Dan Bennett: baritone sax; Elliot Bergman: synthesizer, bass clarinet, baritone sax, tenor sax, vocals, Fender Rhodes, bamboo flute, electric kalimba; Natalie Bergman: vocals; Warn Defever: percussion, electric kalimba; Joey Dosik: alto sax; Erik Hall: guitar, percussion, conga, tambourine, vocals, kalimba, Fender Rhodes, temple blocks, log drums, electric kalimba; Quin Kirchner: percussion, conga, drums, electric kalimba; Jason Murdy: conga, bells; Dan Piccolo: drums; Ingrid Racine: trumpet; Jamie Register: bass, vocals; Hitoko Sakai: percussion, electric kalimba; Justin Walter: trumpet, vocals.
Record Label: Ubiquity Records
Style: Fringes of Jazz