Living in an alternate universe, where groove is paramount regardless of where it finds its inspiration, Mungolian Jet Set's debut, Beauty Came to Us in Stone
(Jazzland, 2006), found its primary membersturntablist/sonic manipulator DJ Strangefruit, known in this dimension as Pål Nyhus, of Nu-Jazz progenitor/trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær's group until recently, and sound sculptor Reider Skarcreating sonic collages that defied any kind of easy categorization. The double-disc We Gave It All Away...Now We Are Taking It Back
is a little more predictable in the persistent beats that make it perfect for dance clubs. A remix/collaboration album, it still holds plenty of surprise in the stylistic breadth of recruited musical friends beamed, at least temporarily, into the sonic universe that Mungolian Jet Setoriginally from Norway, but now living, well, elsewhereinhabits.
If there's any doubt that Mungolian Jet Set functions, at least some of the time, in the jazz sphere, collaborations with Molvær and guitarist Eivind Aarset (here, Aarseth) keep things focused. "Murky Lamabada - Mungs Lambada," retains many of the markers from Aarset's "Murky Lambada," from Sonic Codex (Jazzland, 2007), but emphasizes its relentless rhythm and otherworldly textures, here given even greater electronic treatment. Molvær's "Darker" alternated between programmed beats with soaring trumpet and more ambient landscapes on er (Sula, 2005), but here it's about unrelentingly danceable groove, even as the trumpeter's unerring taste in texture remains fundamental.
Traditional singer Mari Boine is no stranger to remixes; with two remix albums out she's completely comfortable in the world of programming and electronic landscapes. Mungolian Jetset remixed her "Bodes Bat Gal Buot Biros," which translates to the title track on It Ain't Necessarily Evil (Mari Boine Remixed Vol. II) (Universal, 2008), but that version is more eminently dance-ready. We Gave It All Away's remix takes a little less time to get to the beat but, despite its techno vibe, there's a stronger disposition towards the rich acoustic textures that define Boine's music. Athana, in contrast, is a group that explores the darker, atmospheric side of electronica, but on "Ocean 0304 - Cruisin' With the Henleys Mix," Mungolian Jetset lightens the vibe while adding a more persistent pulse.
Elsewhere it's straight to the Orient with Mungolian Jet Set's own "Y Lentokone Mungo," but it's only a setup for "Creepy," which finds its way to an up-tempo groove and sound sources from DJ Strangefruit's massive collection. Techno merges with retro-disco on "Original Highway Delight - Miami Camp Mix," in collaboration with LSB, while the album meshes Brit-pop with David Lynch-like '50s idiosyncrasies on "Moon Song (The Gospel According To Mung)," a lengthy collaboration with They Came From the Stars that closes the set on a positive note.
When Mungolian Jet Set will decide to return to this universe is uncertain. Until then, We Gave It All Away...Now We Are Taking It Back provides more than enough sonic candy and booty shaking rhythms to recruit some new fans and keep existing ones happily dancing.