Wednesday, January 25, 2006

gotta get me some... delayed gratification

Roughly five years ago, while in the basement cafetaria of Warwick University's library (I was doing an MA in International Relations at the time), I remember hearing a Moloko single and thinking how awesome it was that they used a tuba to play the bass line. It took me five years to finally buy the album that track, "Pure Pleasure Seeker," is on and find out that it's not a tuba, but a contrabass saxophone (which makes an extremely tenuous yet nonetheless cool connection to Anthony Braxton).

I rarely buy pop albums (I admit to buying Justin Timberlake's "Justified" at the same time; must have been a mood I was in) regardless of how much I like the singles ("Rock Ya Body," "Señorita" and especially "Cry Me A River" in Timberlake's case), because of "when am I actually going to *listen* to this?" trepidation. Well, I was totally shocked by how awesome nearly every single track on "Things To Make And Do" is (which is not "Justified"'s case, but oh well): they overflow with adventurous (and often whimsical) vocal twists, lyrical concepts and musical ideas, the album is extremely varied yet totally coherent and everything is covered in a wonderful, glittery pop sheen. And they shout "Ramases! Colossus!" like a 2k "Ra ra Rasputin!"

A few years ago, younger jazz musicians who wanted to show that they were in touch with the outside world would cite (and cover) Radiohead, Björk and maybe Beck (expect current indie-rock faves such as The Arcade Fire to turn up on such lists soon). I remember reading Jason Moran say how cool a voice/piano duo with Ghostface (Killah) would be. Moloko never got on those types of lists, yet they easily belong in the same category in terms of quality and alt-cred. Granted, their weirdness is a bit more buried (ie. the pop sheen), but it is perhaps all the better for it.

Has anyone heard Roisin Murphy's solo album? I'm sorely tempted now.