NOMO – Invisible Cities

NOMO - Invisible Cities

NOMO - Invisible Cities

Head songwriter and band-leader, Elliot Bergman, describes NOMO as, “a big melting pot of ideas and influences.” And it’s no surprise that their list of influences span everything and everyone from Alice Coltrane to Can to Funkadelic to Talking Heads to the more obvious, Fela Kuti. But the dissimilarity between NOMO and other like-minded bands is that with these Ann Arbor musicians, you can actually hear their influences.

In similar fashion, Invisible Cities is no different than NOMO’s previous releases: an eclectic fusion of jazz and funk, with the band’s superb musicianship in fine form at every turn. Something as gorgeously composed as “Elijah” sounds divinely professed. A seething, slow-burning manifestation of rumbling horns and saxophones, its rumble and bubble never lets up. In the meantime, the auxiliary and percussionists provide smart, timely atmospherics that release nothing but purity into the music. It’s as if they’ve been able to master the ethereal, other-worldly passions that they’ve been destined to conquer.

All-encompassing and complete, “Nocturne”‘s calming voice chants are a terrific way to end the album. It’s a finite and reserved resolution and one that strikingly contrasts the album’s slamming opener and title track. Commencing with vibraphones and the light tap of a snare and hi-hat, the saxophones of Bergman and Dan Bennett -with his gifted bari- light up the score. Later along the way, Justin Walter adds a trumpet that masterfully rests on top of the saxes; all the while Jamie Saltsman’s bass provides a grooving path to follow.

Not only is Invisible Cities a refreshing and diverse blend of music but it’s proficient ability at being able to combine the best elements in music is tremendous. The frenetic drumming on “Waiting” allows the band’s horns and saxes to rip and roar away, allowing the players to show their chops and man, do they have some mean ones on them. And rightfully so, the rich flavors of “Patterns” come in the form of substanceĀ and dexterity, by way of supreme musicians. Erik Hall’s guitar and Quin Kirchner’s drums are two of the most overlooked aspects to the ensemble’s brilliance. However, it goes without saying that their musicality and subtle touches are exactly what make NOMO the exceptional collection they are.

“Ma” is a carefully layered, growing, simmering hot slice of jazz-funk that recalls contemporaries, The Budos Band. Covered with coatings of saxophones, grimy bass lines, trumpet stabs, grungy guitars and African-flavored tribal beats, the band jives and grooves for the song’s entire existence. Built in what sounds like a mad scientist’s laboratory, the song’s ebb and flow is unmistakably superb and by the time the last instrument (female singers reminiscent of those from Dirty Projectors) let out their last shivers, it’s apparent that these musicians are crafting some seriously marvelous music.

Confident and re-assuring, there’s no doubt that this talented set of musicians have refined and honed in all of their skills. Invisible Cities is the culmination of everything NOMO is about: relaxing when expressed, danceable when needed but above all, an utterly wonderful musical experience. Their canon is one that is wide and far and inevitably, one that will only continue to grow. Hopefully, for everyone’s sake and benefit, we can continue to get music in a huge melting pot like this, because we sure do need it.

Ubiquity Recordings