Jacob Bain & Publish the Quest remind me a lot of Soullive but more in furtherance of elder Africana bands like Air Force, Mandrill, Osibisa, and others, highly charged with jazz and the "dark continent's" native rhythms but also infected with rock, rap, and tamed-down hip hop. Small wonder, then, that the featured guests here are Femi Kuti, Radioactive, and Matt Chamberlain, not to mention ridiculously cool band member Samantha Boshnack, whose group B'shnorkestra I'll be reviewing in these pages ere long.
Long-time readers of my work (I've been doing this crit gig in various venues since '85) will know of my dicey view of reggae, rap, and other forms, but ever since hearing the Reggae Philharmonic and then recenter CDs fusing the mode into forward-looking hybrids, my previously oft ridgy reaction has softened considerably, and cuts like Gotta Keep Movin' show why. Incorporating a number of what can only be called delightful melodies and rhythms, it showcases a broad array of styles cohered to yield an end product respectful of all ingredients while rooting strongly in African motifs.
Then you have the folk-pop-balladic You Never Know Who You're Going to Meet with Eyvind Kang tossing in some atmospheric violin mindful of Hisako Yamashta's work with husband Stomu. The cut's stomp rhythms are infectious and enchanting but don't get too lulled, as the follower, Don't Point that Gun at Me starts out surrealistically and will twist your head around, resolving into a stripped-down serial composition very much in the drone tradition. Everywhere you go in Then What!?, you're going to discover a lot of innovation and surprisingly subtle applications of elder styles connubially married to cutting edge futurisms. Catch the Arabesqued The Wall as just one instance.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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