The people in the Rock Paper Scissors / FlipSwitch PR gig have the most eclectically attuned ears I've ever run across, ceaselessly locating ensembles who bend every possible border in the wildest and profoundest manner. There's not another crew like 'em, and I've been turned on to musics that have knocked me on my keister, wild artworks (Fanfare Ciocărlia, Lord Mouse, etc.) remaining firmly in mind and memory, and Bombay Rickey is no exception. Take the Asylum Street Spankers, fill 'em up with chicken vindaloo, set one and all into the waves of the Pacific Ocean on surfboards, trot Christine & Wammo through an ashram, make their hands are never empty of beer, and you have Bombay Rickey.
The most unusual presence in the group is the irrepressible coloratura soprano Kamala Sankaram, a superbly trained singer who dislikes boundaries and isn't exactly a wallflower. She shouts, yips, wails, then goes into melisma, climbs the octaves to glass-shattering heights (move over, Minnie Ripperton!), croons, and every once in a while even lays back into balladic tones. Trained in Western classical (read: opera) and Hindustani modes, she also, on the side, does crazed cartoon voiceovers and, even further towards the periphery, has worked with Anti-Social Music (!), Anthony Braxton (!!!) and Philip Glass (!!!!!). And just so nothing gets too predictable even on the avant-garde side, she jumps into , alongside everything else. No doubt about it, Kamala HATES being tied down stylistically. And, um, she plays accordion, composes, and arranges as well (even penned an homage to Ennio Morricone, Tuco's Last Stand). Some day I'm gonna marry that woman.
Drew Fleming (gtrs, vox) and Jeff Hudgins (reeds, vox, keybs) are her main men, but four session cats sit in and fill things out nicely. The center trio is like a combination of Morricone, Kiri Te Kanawa, Bollywood, Dick Dale, the Hyderabad Brothers, a nyam myoho renge kyo session (Nichiren Buddhism, y'all), even some old Village Vanguard and Chad Mitchell Trio (egads!), perhaps 100 other elements, maybe more…and then the sessioneers swarm in, filling in the corners, edges, and overhang. Cinefonia contains some of the coolest, oddest, and hippest music you've ever heard and in a debut release no less. Given that, we can only hope they stay together because the disc is a great listen and firm challenge to staid sensibilities with a tantalizing promise of even better to come. If you think I'm kidding, listen to Pilgrim, where The Man With No Name meets Soft Machine…written by Sankaram even though she barely appears in it!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles