Monday, Jun 23 2008 | 12:03

“Ghost Rock” is the new album from the Michigan-based collective NOMO. The album sheds light on the way forward for a band that has been forging its own vital sound. This is not the Afrobeat of Fela, nor the revivalist Funk of a forgotten decade. This record owes as much to Can, Eno, and MIA as it does Kuti, Francis Bebey, and Funkadelic. On “Ghost Rock”, NOMO arrives in a new place. There’s no loss of steam as they incorporate new influences, instead NOMO breaks through with a matured and developed sound that is fully its own.

“World music, jazz, electronica, Afrobeat … I hope that we don’t get marginalized by any of these terms. We are an American band, and in our hearts I think we’re more of a rock band than anything else, but we love so many different types of music,” says band leader Elliot Bergman. “We have a set of musicians, and we are trying to organize our sounds in a way that represents ourselves. We’re not trying to make a record that sounds like it was recorded in the 70’s and we’re not trying to make anybody think that this was recorded in Nigeria. We’re not trying to fool anybody, and especially not ourselves! This is our music. It is full of life, full of emotion. It’s funky, danceable, weird, heavy, exuberant, angry, joyous and raucous,” he adds.

The band’s perpetual grooves are deeper than ever. The horns are set ablaze and analog synths beam an electrified energy into the music. The homemade percussion arsenal is ramped up a notch, and the electric sawblade gamelan brings gong-like overtones into the tangled vine of synthetic and organic strands. The band taps into its full orchestral potential—the arrangements are filled with timbral variety, as the bubbling textures of the percussion meld with the soaring sounds of the horn section.

With homemade, wild, Morton Subotnick-like, percussive loops on “Ghost Rock” serving as the framework for the compositions the band were freed up to experiment with different ideas and a bigger, more orchestral, sound was born. Helping NOMO achieve this new direction were some heavy rhythmic contributors. Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph lend their percussive mastery to several tracks with Drake’s fiery drumming propelling “All The Stars” to new heights. Josh Abrams fills out the low end on “Rings”.

Fans of the band will know that they like to start and end their live shows in the audience, and the opening and closing tracks on “Ghost Rock” echo this aspect of their performances. “Joining the audience for a song at the beginning or end of a show invites participation,” explains Bergman. “On a good night, it feels like everybody is working together. Having a few great dancers in the audience can really drive the band to new levels, and we love to sing together at the end of show. It ends up solidifying the bond between the player and the listener. It helps to make people feel that music is an event; social, spiritual and communal rather than a commodity to be consumed.”

The band has toured incessantly since the 2006 release “New Tones”. That album garnered much critical acclaim and ended up on top 10 lists from NPR, Gilles Peterson, and Global Rhythm. The band has performed over 150 live concerts since the album, touring North America, and Europe including stops at Bumbershoot, Pitchfork Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, SXSW, and WOMEX. Able to fit anywhere (literally and figuratively)—they’ve shared a stage with everyone from Earth Wind and Fire, to Konono No.1, to Sharon Jones, to Dan Deacon.

“Their follow-up, Ghost Rock, doesn’t just push that future-primitive envelope further, it punches holes right through it … Guerrilla groove merchants, third-ear fakirs, lo-fi sci-fi square-root-of-pi pipers—call ’em whatcha want, this Ghost Rock shit fucking rocks.” Montreal Mirror

“… the band pushes the envelope to include elements of electronica and comes up with something truly special … This one conjures up trailblazers Brian Eno (circa “Before and After Science”) and Miles Davis (circa “On the Corner”) and is utterly astonishing. Still driven by horns and percussion, Nomo is in formidable form on “Ghost Rock,” one of the most audacious and spirited albums so far this year.” Detroit Free Press

“While American spins on African music have proliferated of late, few genre-crossing groups deliver the Tortoise-sized fusion of NOMO.” Earplug

“Really a nice mix – the album is excellent!” Gilles Peterson (BBC Radio 1 / Worldwide)

“Ghost Rock is a giant leap forward. This is the instrumental band to watch. Period.” All Music Guide


01. Brainwave
02. All The Stars
03. Round The Way
04. Rings
05. My Dear
06. Ghost Rock
07. Last Beat
08. Three Shades
09. Nova

Audio Files: Listen

The album NOMOGhost Rock” (Ubiquity) is going to be released June 27, 2008.

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