Mop Mop – Ritual of the Savage review

Artist: Mop Mop
Title: Ritual of the Savage
Label: Infracom!
Genre: Broken Beat/Nu Jazz
Format: Digital
Buy From: Juno Download

A truly inspired jazz album of considerable breadth, Mop Mop follow on from their Kiss of Kali album with this wide-angled follow up. Led by Italian Andrea Benini, there’s a large cast of notable players featured such as trombonist Gianluca Petrella, as well as vocalists such as Alan Farrington and Baby Sol (who’s worked with Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and Paloma Faith amongst others).

After the languid, David Axelrod-esque opener “The Return of the King”, the beats break out on the infectious be-bop of “Destination”. All number of funky inspirations are name checked during the spoken verses (James Brown, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk amongst others). Baby Sol turns in a fantastic vocal on “Mr Know It All”, a slow and bumping soul song produced with crystal clarity by Benini. There are some Mandrill-style spoken interludes too, spooky and voodoo-laden like “Outerspace” or the title track, which give the album a real sense of depth and concept.

Possibly the highlight of the album is Mop Mop’s cover of Don Cherry’s “Brown Rice” (here retitled “Naja Haje”). Picking up Cherry’s distinctive 8-note phrase and rearranging it for vibraphones is a masterstroke, as is swapping the original’s icy mood for a warm and soulful bass and congas backing. While many songs here might feel familiar to nu-jazz and broken beat fans, there’s rarely been an album so wide in scope in either of these genres.

Review: Oliver Keens