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Published: 2002/01/23
by Brad Weiner

420 Cirque du Funque – Mama Sutra

Recently, there has been this enormous wave of bands that would like to
consider themselves funky. I personally think that the jamband world turned
funky when a certain Vermont quartet made their sound a lot less climatic
and
much more groove oriented in early 1997.

Mama Sutra is one of manyy bands now out there offering
their version of jamband funk. This is not to say they are bad
musicians, just not terribly original ones. Bassist/vocalist Molly Boyles
has
a stellar voice. She belts out fabulous lines that soar way above the
monotony
of the music. Her bass playing is solid, as it provides a decent, although
horribly repetitive, low end to the music. The high end is what needs help.
The guitarists Ray Messick and Russell Spurlock cruise through overly used
two-chord specials and use as much wah as I use ranch dressing. The solos
are
incredible, but drift too far into Trey-like riffs, which are fine, but
don’t compliment the funk atmosphere. Spurlock is Mama Sutra’s
multi-instrumentalist who adds sax, flute, didj and vocals to the brew.
Thankfully, there are horn parts. If it weren’t for Spurlock, the music
would be
helplessly lost in the jamband galaxy with no money for the spaceship ride
home.
420 Cirque du Funque, is a recording from a recent 420 party held by
the
band. It takes over seventy-three minutes to hear it out, but this time is
spread over only seven tunes, one of which ("The Vibe") is over seventeen
minutes. It takes no overpriced college degree to understand that these guys
jam. Jamming, in my opinion should have variances in tempo, dynamic,
possibly
even style. Mama Sutra simply grooves, and often it goes on a little long.

"Enno Tu" is not only the shortest track, it is the best. Spurlock uses a
phase
sampler and effects processors to create a creepy, broken record kind of
funkiness. Electronica is gaining popularity in the jamband scene and the
music world at large. Mama Sutra could certainly incorporate this technique
into more of their songs to leave the pack behind.

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