Album Title: Invisible Cities
Label: Ubiquity Records
Play Time: 60'02"
The title track from Nomo's sixth album begins in typical Afrobeat fashion: tight horns illustrate a pungent shape, bass and drums drive circular rhythms, Nomo leader Elliot Bergman snorts a soulful tenor solo. But beneath the standard Afrobeat-isms, almost subliminally, Nomo re-contextualize the song: a luminous electric kalimba swells, distorted guitar clutters the left channel, ripping sounds and chirping crickets erupt from the right. Finally, nothing remains but the gamelan tones of the electric kalimba.
|Invisible Cities repeats such clever composites throughout its nine tracks, updating Fela Kuti's innovations with electronics, junk instruments and novel arrangements and ideas. This Ann Arbor-based tentet has been entertaining the Midwest since 2004's Nomo, attracting everyone from college hipsters and crate diggers to Afrobeat purists.
Invisible Cities is the sound of an experienced creative outfit in their prime, combining styles and sources at will rooted in Afrobeat but infused with a wonderfully polyglot approach. Dan Bennett's muted drum patterns roll lazy horns and a skanky sci-fi guitar riff in "Ma" sounding like a deranged Les Baxter complete with female ("la la la") Tiki vocals. "Banners on High" approximates Can and Krautrock, squealing effects and a radiant electric piano coiling over space rock drumming and a cacophonous horn section. "Nocturne" explores five electric kalimbas, a hypnotic vocal chant and a freak electronic solo. "Waiting" is Afrobeat party groove meets free jazz tenor madness. Invisible Cities -- implying impermanence and imagination -- is an apt title for such a beautiful, nearly perfect album.