Mocean Worker’s Cinco de Mowo!


Mocean Worker’s 1998 debut, Home Movies from the Brainforest, demonstrated how rhythm tracks could function as content while denying it. One-man-band Adam Dorn grooved post-boogaloo style and tried to stay in motion, as his moniker implied. He seemed comfortable back then stirring in detuned Horace Silver piano rumbles, disappearing bass lines, and the occasional big-band riff; nearly a decade later, Cinco de Mowo! finds Dorn setting chunky saxophone sections against trumpets that state the melody and hold, but the record sometimes sounds like 1998. The rhythm tracks don’t improve on the drums-and-bass of yesteryear, and Dorn’s use of sophisticated negative space now sounds like acknowledgement of the distance between conceptualist and sources.

That’s not to say Cinco doesn’t have its charms, or that its architect doesn’t know something about jazz. “Reykjavik” features skittering electric piano and a sampled flute snippet from Rahsaan Roland Kirk, while “Changes” lays terse trumpet licks (courtesy of Herb Alpert) over a nervously sprung piano figure. Dorn scrambles Afro-Cuban rhythms on “Tickle Me,” and if “Que Bom” doesn’t match Sergio Mendes or Elis Regina, such mildly funky tunes as “Les and Eddie” and “Son of Sanford” make Cinco a wordless diversion tuff enough for the great Ace Cannon himself.

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