self-titled – ModeReko
Blue Thumb Records 314 549 474-2
ModeReko is a four-piece ensemble that has grabbed the attention of
jazz-fusion followers nationwide in a short period of time. Their music on
this self-titled debut meshes live jazz grooves with electronic effects and
pre-recorded loops to create an interesting brand of post-modern
instrumental pop. Bobby Read blows sax and assorted woodwinds while Tim
Kobaza handles the guitars and bass. John D'earth seems a fitting name for
the trumpet player of the band, as he provides some simple yet expressive
brass work as well. John Molo might have the most notoriety of the group
from his stints drumming for Bruce Hornsby, the Other Ones, Ratdog, and Phil
Lesh and Friends.
Despite the free-form, almost experimental nature of the jams on the album,
none of them are particularly long. The tracks are all under five minutes in
length, with most averaging just over three minutes. They all have the eerie
sensation of a flashback or interrupted daydream, as they meander quickly
from one lead to the next, before fading out to some electronically captured
sounds of some sort.
Sahara Sod, the opener, is a balanced mixture of ethereal horn
arrangements cut with rubbery back-beats and sharp accented horn play. Much
of the album draws its influence from Egyptian and Middle Eastern sounds, so
the first track is a good indicator of whats to come. This track ends with
a circus or video game soundtrack playing, fading to the background. It
doesn't disappear altogether, though, as the treble melts into a bassy mix
that sounds like it's coming from the car right next to yours as you wait at
a traffic light.
Most of the horns on the album make extensive use of effects and accents,
more in live practice than studio manipulation. This sharpens the tone of
the album, though they could have been a little more diverse in the
techniques repeated throughout. There is no doubt that the guys on this
album were trying for something different, and in most cases they succeed.
Tracks like L.A.-VA and Heart of Seoul provide raw sounds
layered against the music being created by the artists of ModeReko. The
former track breaks down into an early 20th century dance hall sample, while
the later is marked by urban noises like sirens and rush hour traffic. The
album ends with an unlabeled track that repeats a jungle loop from earlier
in the album. The track ends with a sound of snoring above the din,
apparently to symbolize the end of the album. Though it will appeal more to
fans of electronic jazz-fusion than Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, this album won't
put you to sleep.