Mocean Worker – aka Adam Dorn – continues his series of “MOWO!” recordings that rely on mashing up music from bygone eras with beats from a much more modern one. Candygram For Mowo! is his latest effort, and picks up right where his previous album, 2007’s Cinco De Mowo! left off.
The “MOWO!” records are now a trilogy, and offer a sharp contrast from his earlier material. His first two albums were inspired by melodic drum-n-bass and more brooding electronic fare (often meeting in the middle, with something akin to dubstep before it was actually known as such), before his third album Aural & Hearty took a more playful direction towards hipster lounge music, a la Ursala 1000. But with Enter The Mowo! his penchant for resurrecting early jazz and big band music and turning it into more beat-laden fare emerged.
It’s this renaissance of the past that seems to best play to his strengths. Not only is the material catchy and tuneful, but the mashup of different eras never feels forced and offers a thread of continuity from the roaring twenties all the way up to a more modern club culture.
The record begins with “Shooby Shooby Do Yah!”, and is a close spiritual successor to “Shake Ya Boogie,” the opener from his previous record. It’s an upbeat mix of beats and big band horns that immediately makes you want to move (a feeling more or less commanded by “Shake Ya Boogie”). With each of the “MOWO!” albums, this feeling has been present, but here it stays the focus for most of the record. Both “Sistas and Bruthas” and “Hoot and Hollah” could just as easily have filled this opening slot for getting the party started. But even deeper cuts such as “Ya Damn Right” offer maximum head-bobbiness.
While most of the tracks veer more towards instrumental jams with smatterings of sampled vocals, “My Own Little World” offers a nice pastiche-flavored rap from guest Lyrics Born. Other guests on the record are more of the instrumental variety. Saxophonist Mindi Abair offers some tasteful licks to the soul-infused “Sistas and Bruthas,” while Steven Bernstein provides trumpet (both muted and otherwise) to the opener as well as “It Still Don’t Mean A Thing.” Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who was also featured on Cinco De Mowo!, turns up again on flute in the downtempo “Mel’s Torment” as well as the closing “Sho Nuff” (which also features Bill Frisell, Charlie Hunter and Hal Willner).
Candygram For Mowo! may very well be Mocean Worker’s most soulful and jazzy release to date, and that’s definitely a good thing. The groove that developed more and more during the past two albums is almost the sole focus here, and Dorn sounds very much in his element. There are several new classic jams on display here, and fans of soul, jazz, funk, hip-hop, big band, and downtempo music would do well to give it a listen.
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