Tuesday, May 02 2006 | 11:59

On “New Tones” home-made Detroit electronics and huge horn sections blast big band funk and riotous jazz. NOMO’s roots are firmly planted in the fertile soil of African polyrhythm and American free jazz, and bandleader Elliot Bergman’s tracks draw inspiration from cultures and generations wildly different than his home setting. In many ways (at least geographically and sonically) NOMO are a distant relative of the TRIBE collective. Undoubtedly they carry the spirit of the legendary Detroit-label’s creative output.

NOMO (“Next 100” 2005 URB) were signed to Ubiquity through interest in their little-known self-titled debut album, and on the back of an onslaught of persuasive emails from their fans (including Sam Valenti IV of Ghostly International fame) that the band puts on a must-see live show. Raw propulsive rhythms and infectious melodies carry a horn section and multilayered percussion that is part Tom Ze, M.I.A., Philip Cohran, P-Funk, Antibalas, Tortoise and Harry Partch. Enigmatic Detroit producer Warren Defever was charged with capturing the band’s live energy, and he shaped the sounds for maximum impact. “New Tones” is a full-color, spiritual soundscape that marries the exotic with the gritty. NOMO’s “New Tones” moves beyond the ecstatic to approach Bergman’s vision of a transcendent, elemental sound—one that aims to move both bodies and spirits.

“We blend minimalist keyboard loops, fuzzed-out bass, soulful group vocals, and rolling blasts from an electric mbira,” explains an enthusiastic Bergman. “Throw in a horn-led midnight funeral procession and hopefully you have a deep listen that’s also a soul shaking dance party for the people!”

In 2004 Ypsilanti Records released NOMO’s debut album and the band sold a few thousand copies (in the USA), mostly based on the strength of their live set. With the indie-press latching on to the band reviews came in from the Fader, XLR8R, Magnet, Blender, and the band even landed a spot on the Urb Next 100 list. Later in the Fall of 2005 P-vine would give the debut album a Japanese domestic release. Following that, Ghostly International released a Dabrye remix of “Not Wisely/Too Well”, from the debut, on the “Additional Productions vol.1” EP. In the Spring of 2006 Kindred Spirits will include “Better Than That” on a spiritual jazz compilation and release a four song 12″ in March prior to the “New Tones” album release in May.

“The New Tones recordings are more intricate and nuanced than anything we’ve released,” says Bergman. “The record features an arsenal of homemade percussion including the “electric sawblade-gamelan”, “no-tone” shakers, and the “Nu-Tone cymbals”,” he adds.

The band has a core of 8 multi-instrumentalists and their big steamrolling ensemble sound still leaves room for solo voices; Elliot Bergman (Tenor Sax, Bass Clarinet, Synths, Rhodes, Electric Mbira etc), Erik Hall (Guitar and Percussion), Jamie Register (Bass and Singing), Dan Piccolo (Drumset, Canister), Olman Piedra (Congas and percussion), Dan Bennett (Saxophones), Ingrid Racine (trumpet), and Justin Walter (Trumpet). “New Tones” is the product of six months of recording at Midwest venues including Detroit’s venerable United Sound Systems (as featured on the Luv N’Haight compilation Searching for Soul), Key Club Recording Company, Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, and the NOMO basement. “Many band members lived together in Ann Arbor over a 5 year period. This place was ground zero for NOMO activity, housed rehearsals, and many a sweaty basement dance party,” says Bergman. “In fact, we had lots of good shows there, from avant noise bands to folky sing-alongs to free jazz jams to electro.”

Nu Tones is all original, except for “The Book of Right On” a cover of a track by Joanna Newsom. “She is a strange and wonderful singer/harpist who sounds like a baroque version of Bjork, or some strange Ancient/Future nymph singing … she’s certainly an acquired taste, but one that I love,” says Bergman. The album documents a 2-year period of incessant performing and rehearsing, playing in sweaty basements, indie rock bars, and radio stations. The band has played numerous festival stages with groups as diverse as Amp Fiddler, Sharon Jones, Numbers, and dB’s. One of the highlights was playing to 4,000 people with Fred Anderson and Nicole Mitchell sitting in at the Chicago World Music Festival. The AACM collaboration carried through to the making of this record, which features Mitchell’s otherworldly flute work on the opening track “Nu Tones”, and then as the soloist on “We Do We Go” and “If You Want”.

Reactions:

It’s party music of the first order, locking into a groove so deep you can practically feel the sweat.” Magnet

NOMO swings a sense of spirituality, soul and grace back into pop music.” Detroit Metro Times

Subtly shifting time signatures and grooves, and outfitted with more than capable soloists, NOMO sounds fresh in an otherwise saturated market.” XLR8R

The album NOMONew Tones” (Ubiquity) is going to be released May 05, 2006.

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