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Published: 2007/07/22
by Brian Ferdman

Cinco de Mowo! – Mocean Worker


Adam Dorn, aka Mocean Worker, has been blazing a trail that is uniquely his own. On 2004's brilliant Enter the MoWo!, he stepped out of the electronica world and dove head-first into his own realm of modern jazz. Mixing live instruments with samples of classic jazz musicians, he was able to craft an album that grooved in new and interesting ways. After nearly three years in the laboratory, he returns with Cinco de Mowo!, a record crafted in the same manner but with a new goal of making the listener dance.

Dorn is a skilled musician and producer who does a lot of things incredibly well, but his most impressive feat is creating an album with a consistent vibe that subtly shifts, ebbs, and flows quite smoothly. His songs all have tremendous groove, but none jar the listener or cry out for too much attention. Every tune is designed to be appreciated on two levels: as both a heady brew of sonic experimentation oozing with funkiness and as an unobtrusive soundtrack to a killer dance party. The opening “Shake Ya Boogie” takes Steven Bernstein’s polished, muted trumpet and pairs it with a gently loping clarinet, rumbling boogie-woogie floor tom and bass, big band orchestral hits, and a pulsating club beat. “Tickle It” employs the same attitude and themes, but adds a slight hint of Latin spice. While the tempo slows somewhat for Oli Rockberger’s wickedly slinking piano on “Olaby,” the overall feeling remains stuck in that unique, unknown time period that marries the old and new on the altar of soul. One of the more interesting compositions features Cochemea Gastellum’s smoky alto saxophone blending with legendary Herb Alpert’s atmospheric trumpet and is underscored by a steadily percolating beat that causes “Changes” to glide by effortlessly. Meanwhile, a funky theme is slyly injected into the understated “Brown Liquor,” a cut that pairs hypnotic electric piano with Marcus Miller’s klezmer-influenced clarinets.

Similar to his last effort, Dorn is sure to give the listener an easy landing by deftly fading out the album. “Pretty” is an aptly-named track that employs dove-like acoustic guitar and a cool bossa nova beat. This velvety song perfectly sets up the finale of “Songnumber3,” a chart that begins with a heavier drum machine before bringing in Erik Friedlander’s emotional cellos meshing with a hauntingly beautiful piano melody that slowly puts Cinco de Mowo! to sleep.

With Cinco de Mowo!, Dorn has successfully created the infectious party record he so desired. At its essence, his effort grooves so well that one could easily ignore the complex and impressive intricacies of this album and still have a damn good time dancing to the music. Of course, there are many layers to this musical onion if the listener chooses to spend time peeling back the skin and digging deeper. Cinco de Mowo! may appeal to the jazzhead, but it never forgets that its primary goal is keep the party jumping. Thus, Mocean Worker’s latest is a lowbrow record crafted in highbrow style, yet another one-of-a-kind creation from an artist who is thankfully finding new, exciting, and unpretentious ways to push the envelope.

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