by Matt Shepherd
The Daily Cougar
Joseph Patrick Moore’s Drum & Bass Society’s Volume 1 is every bassist’s dream — Inviting all your eclectic musician friends over to cook up some funky, ethnic musical cuisine. JPMDBS uses more ingredients than putt-thai korat in its latest release on Blue Canoe Records. Talented and diverse musicians that are free to explore various themes in a loosely structured environment almost always yield interesting results.
From a marketing perspective, the downside to approaching a record this way is that the further one is removed from its actual performance, the less interesting the music becomes — a phenomenon that’s only amplified if the listener isn’t a musician. The onion-like layering of JPMDBS creates subtle nuances often detectable only to the musicians actually involved in the project, so don’t expect this album to break into the Top 40.
Interesting choices of material abound in Volume 1, beginning with the opening track, a cover of Men at Work’s “Down Under.” The rendition features the flute of David Freeman, the equally airy vocals of Temple Passmore and the calypso rhythms of drummer Ben Taylor and percussionists Count M’Butu and Larry Blewitt. The groove is light and breezy, but the chorus drops with the reggae earthiness of Tim Ussery’s mandolin chucking.
Original composition “Groove Messenger” is a salsa-flavored nod to Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue sessions. The samba beats provide a solid foundation for Freeman, and Vance Thompson’s modal horn jaunts into jazz age Harlem. Interesting programming and keyboard loops add a sophisticated electronic element that keeps it fresh.
The highlight of this record is the middle-eastern jam, “Cheesefrog Funk.” The frantic intro builds tension with a saxophone and a mandolin’s short bursts overlaid on the inevitable plodding of Moore himself on bass. Ziya Devletsah’s violin screams as if the electrified aeolian grains of a dust storm are bowing the strings. The violin and horns engage in a moaning dialogue over the top of an arid pocket set down by Emrah Kotan’s repetitive trash cymbals and syncopated beats along with Moore’s slap bass.
Moore showcases his bass skills on “Herbie,” a tribute to jazz/funk pioneer Herbie Hancock. He stays true to Trey Anastasio‘s playful bounce on Phish’s “Heavy Things,” which is the record’s best example of the drum ‘n’ bass with its half-time bass lines and fast jungle beats.
The talent of the musicians and their unique vision is refreshing, and the resulting music is multi-layered and wildly diverse. Volume 1 imports global elements into the realm of jazz and synthetically tweaks the mixture with electronic programming. This may please those who command a more sophisticated palette and bore those who prefer lolli-pop music.
The Verdict: Put on your headphones and pick it apart like an artichoke.