Mamuthones - Fear On The Corner

by Rob Taylor Rating:10 Release Date:2018-02-23
Mamuthones - Fear On The Corner
Mamuthones - Fear On The Corner

Mamuthones new album, Fear on the Corner is the kind of disjunctive funk and controlled improvisation that was once a hallmark of jazz experimentalists like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Miles Davìs only released one studio album in the 1970s, which was On the Corner. In a snub to contemporary media, Davis turned his back on jazz traditionalism and sought disparate influences such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone for inspiration. Much of the brilliant 1970s Miles Davis stuff like Live Evil and Agharta was only available through Sony Japan on release. The Japanese loved his firebrand experimental jazz-funk. They were receptive to instrumental pandemonium. Oddly enough, Miles was trying to appeal to African-Americans but it was the Japanese that really loved that stuff.  Most of Davis’s old fan base couldn’t stomach it, including people like journalist Stanley Crouch, who thought the jazz-funk excursions were beneath someone with Miles’s genius.

These days, the rock media are falling over themselves to pronounce Davis’s 70s albums as visionary classics, and the live ones, especially Agharta and Pangaea (recorded live in Japan) certainly deserve that status.

Fear on the Corner shares the main characteristic of those albums - dazzling improvisation, rhythmic drive, and a funky as hell disco-ball pulse. This is the injection of originality the psych realm is needing. One that introduces movement rather than ponderance, hip swinging rather than chin nodding.

Just as musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Al Foster and Pete Cosey laid the groundwork for Davis’s controlled improvisations, so Mamuthones employ equal measures of chaos and strict organisation. Take ‘Alone’ and ‘The Wrong Side’ for instance, the two tracks for which parallels can be surely drawn with Davis, the freak-out guitar plays discordantly against a steady backbeat and some powerful one and two chord vamps and chords. A collage of styles which also traces back to the band’s interest in prog-rock, cult movie soundtracks, and the occult.

While Mamuthones play in the spirit of free jazz, Fear on the Corner is no avant-garde album. ‘Show Me’ is  P.I.L and LCD Soundsystem’s love child on acid - rhythmical, pulsating bass lines, against which some really crazy guitar flips out completely. The grooves are on, and the repetitions are straight-out infectious. ‘Here We Are’ is a brilliant expose of African rhythms, with circuitous trance and an ominous hum that will have the black-clad disco set maybe cracking a little smile of satisfaction. The dance-floor friendly music has just enough fun and abandon to offset the cerebral invention.

The title of the album is a play on Fear of Music (Talking Heads) and the Miles album. If you listen to the track ‘Cars’ its almost impossible not to recall the Heads spin-off, Tom Tom Club, or even ESG. Energised and rhythmically charged, Mamuthones pay due regard to their eclectic influences while preserving a truly unique psychedelic vision that owes no-one anything really.

Trailblazing new psych which ignores boundaries and exemplifies great musicianship.

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