Sex Mob are a jazz quartet led by trumpeter Steven Bernstein. The band is based in New York and made a name for itself by presenting exciting live shows and pop song improvisations. They have performed as the house band for the Leonard Cohen tribute project featuring Nick Cave and Rufus Wainwright. In addition to Bernstein, Sex Mob features altoist Briggan Krauss, bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen.
They offer their own personal brand of punkish improvisation. By using drums, baritone sax, double bass and trumpet they have managed in the past to deconstruct songs by Abba, Cobain and Brubeck. They have also applied the same formula to a James Bond compilation.
With the recording of 'Sexotica' Sex Mob have produced a sultry tribute to the 1950s 'exotica' pioneer Martin Denny. "Exotica" was a pastiche of South American, Caribbean, and Hawaiian music originated by Denny. Denny's method was to employ a small group with a large amount of percussion and 'ethnic' instruments along with bird song and natural sounds of nature. His group incorporated instruments and ideas from the Pacific Rim nations as well as Africa, churning out a range of original easy listening arrangements sometimes known as lounge music. The incorporated natural sounds were sometimes provided by percussionist Augie Colon who would imitate bird calls on stage while performing with Denny in Hawaii. In Sex Mob's music, these natural sounds are electronically produced and add a certain profundity to the music. The tracks are layered and some of these sounds provide a background to the music.
On this album Sex Mob were assisted by the remix duo 'Good and Evil', who have cut and mixed the groups studio performances in order to accentuate the textural and rhythmic expressions of Bernstein melodies such as Pygmy Suite Quiet. Personally I think some of the tracks on the cd would have been better off without some of their contributions. This is especially apparent on the closing track "7 Bars" that splutters a funk rock tune that seems out of sync with the other tracks.
The first track "Pygmy Suite" opens with a signature foot tapping groove interspersed by Bernstein's trumpet solos. This is followed by a piece called, "Martin Denny" that simply oozes out of the speakers, and spills into the room. It's hard to make this out at first, the electronic drums seem possessed by a tribal resonance, but it's one of those tracks that certainly gets under your skin after a while. The trumpet drips with sensuality. This is an intense song and a sexual melody that longs to be caressed.
"Luvin Blume" is one that I prefer and has a deep bass line that accompanies a fluid sound of acoustic drums and electronic production effects. "Quiet" is a typical lounge composition dripping with sensuality. The more organic "Dick Contino's Blues" takes you deeper into the swamp. Here the use of electronic percussion imitates what seem like crickets chirping and frogs croaking. "Kid Rock Deluxe" continues the theme but offers a more upbeat groove that leaves you swinging from the trees.
Dick Contino's Blues;
Kid Rock Deluxe;
Composing a CD such as this requires an underlying intelligence that consciously unifies of the whole rather than producing a simple array of separate tracks. These pieces are languid and soothing. The collaboration of brass, acoustic and electronics works to harmonious effect. The sound borders on a kind of tropical existentialism. Hang on in there amongst the undergrowth and you might just feel the beat a primeval nature and the subtle ingenuity of the compositions. Vocal interjections of words and phrases emphasise the core human origins of the music.
I would highly recommend the CD, certainly for those who are more into jazz themes that border on the experimental. However, this music might be a bit too abstract and inaccessible for those who prefer a more commercial sound.
£11.99 at Amazon
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Pygmy Suite
2 Martin Denny
4 Luvin Blame
7 Dick Contino's Blues
8 Kid Rock Deluxe
9 7 Bars