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Invisible Cities is NOMO's companion piece to Ghost Rock, comprising music recorded during Ghost's recording sessions and subsequent, supporting live performances. Cities uses many of the same musicians, structures, and approaches, but Bergman and NOMO seem to focus more on pulling traditional jazz sounds into, and pushing the boundaries of electronic rock out of, its swirling dervish mix.
For example, nothing on Ghost Rock sounds like Invisible Cities' opening, title track. Powered by the dual engines of a rhythm section with electric kalimba, and a horn section that majestically trumpets a cutting riff from the Oliver Nelson or Julian "Cannonball" Adderley blues school, it almost immediately reaches warp speed.
There's also nothing on Rock like the New Orleans ensemble horn sound that calls to order "Patterns," although "rock" does describe what drummer Dan Piccolo and bassist Jamie Register do to mash up its beat, while the saxophone soloists blaze through repeated choruses with screaming electricity.
Invisible further demonstrates NOMO's ability to put music together in different ways. A guitar or keyboard riff first serves shrill counterpoint to "Ma," but then becomes the hook from which the horns and vocals take their cue (Bergman uses very cool kaleidoscopic production touches here, too). "Banners on High" seems to come together from all different styles and cornerschurning staccato drums, squalling electronics, gloriously resounding hornsthrough some sort of collective musical magnetism.
Like Ghost, some Invisible songs can sound kind of difficult. "Bumbo" (credited to underground musical legend Moondog) opens in a free-spirited gallop but then its rhythm begins to throb like a toothache while several saxophonists begin to wail all at once, and its edge grows harsh; Bergman's production makes the sound both exciting and bleak.
"Elijah" sounds more apocalyptic than prophetic, a spacious dirge harmonized through a seething sea of roiling drums and electronics, the sound of the beginning of the end. It leads into the concluding "Nocturne," a tribal, percussion and vocal serpentine dance that surely makes Sun Ra smile. Bergman's wooden flute, leading several floating phases in "Crescent," provides another lighter sounding respite.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.