NOMO’s roots are firmly planted in the fertile soil of African polyrhythm and American free jazz, and bandleader Elliot Bergman’s tracks draw inspiration from cultures and generations wildly different than his home setting. In many ways (at least geographically and sonically) NOMO are a distant relative of the TRIBE collective. Undoubtedly they carry the spirit of the legendary Detroit-label’s creative output.
NOMO were signed to Ubiquity through interest in their little-known self-titled debut album, and on the back of an onslaught of persuasive emails from their fans (including Sam Valenti IV of Ghostly International fame) that the band puts on a must-see live show. Raw propulsive rhythms and infectious melodies carry a horn section and multilayered percussion that is part Tom Ze, M.I.A., Philip Cohran, P-Funk, Antibalas, Tortoise and Harry Partch. Enigmatic Detroit producer Warren Defever was charged with capturing the band’s live energy, and he shaped the sounds for maximum impact.
“We blend minimalist keyboard loops, fuzzed-out bass, soulful group vocals, and rolling blasts from an electric mbira,” explains an enthusiastic Bergman. “Throw in a horn-led midnight funeral procession and hopefully you have a deep listen that’s also a soul shaking dance party for the people!”
In 2004 Ypsilanti Records released NOMO’s debut album and the band sold a few thousand copies (in the USA), mostly based on the strength of their live set. With the indie-press latching on to the band reviews came in from the Fader, XLR8R, Magnet, Blender, and the band even landed a spot on the URB Next 100 list. Later in the Fall of 2005 P-vine would give the debut album a Japanese domestic release. Following that, Ghostly International released a Dabrye remix of "Not Wisely/Too Well", from the debut, on the "Additional Productions Vol.1" EP.
The band has a core of 8 multi-instrumentalists and their big steamrolling ensemble sound still leaves room for solo voices; Elliot Bergman (Tenor Sax, Bass Clarinet, Synths, Rhodes, Electric Mbira etc), Erik Hall (Guitar and Percussion), Jamie Register (Bass and Singing), Dan Piccolo (Drumset, Canister), Olman Piedra (Congas and percussion), Dan Bennett (Saxophones), Ingrid Racine (trumpet), and Justin Walter (Trumpet).
The band has toured incessantly since the 2006 release New Tones. That album garnered much critical acclaim and ended up on top 10 lists from NPR, Gilles Peterson, and Global Rhythm. The band has performed over 150 live concerts since the album, touring North America, and Europe including stops at Bumbershoot, Pitchfork Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, SXSW, and WOMEX.