Kobol: Broken Ebony
Static Discos

Equal parts broken beat and Flanger-styled Nu-jazz, Kobol's debut album Broken Ebony draws upon multiple idioms but primarily jazz and electronics. Originally from Ensenada, Mexico and now residing in LA, multi-instrumentalist Ignacio Chavez (Plankton Man, ex-Nortec Collective) and drummer Argel Medina (Niño Astronauta) generate a constantly shifting matrix of sound in ten engrossing and richly textured tracks (one a remix by Fax aka Ruben Tamayo).

The group also proves itself stylistically wide-ranging, though perhaps a bit too much so as the album's diversity ultimately translates into a lack of focus for the group's personality. Pinballing beat clusters and rippling electronic effects in “Command Station,” for example, find the duo in AFX territory, while “Delevan” exudes a heavier jazz improv feel of loose-limbed drum soloing and guitar flurries. Sometimes multiple styles dwell within the same song, like the marriage of bass-led jazz-funk and African percussion flavourings in “Roble,” as well as the cubistic fusion of chopped tribal-voices and spacey glitch-funk in “Soka.” “Es Particluar,” on the other hand, cruises forth in a glitchy shimmy abetted by the clean sound of George Benson-styled guitar figures.

Still, notwithstanding an ugly noisescape of cello groans and guitar splatter (the appropriately-titled “Terror Pig”), Broken Ebony has more than its share of great material. One such example, the opener “Hilton,” filters noir stylings through an electronic blender by surrounding brooding piano chords with a glitchy drum lurch. The title track is solid too, a down-tempo fusion of jazz and hip-hop besieged by whirrs and clicks and deepened by warm trombone accents; in addition, Fax's “Broken Ebony” remix, a lovely slice of glistening micro-house, ends the set on a positive note. Despite the group's multi-variant tendencies, what ultimately recommends Broken Ebony is its constant engagement. Consistent with its strong jazz roots, the music stays explorative throughout, and the infusion of electronics exponentially boosts the level of activity in play at any given moment.

May 2005