Nommo Ogo: Across Time and Space
With seven tracks weighing in at thirty-seven minutes, Kush Arora's Boiling Over is a relatively lean set, but it's substantial enough for a solid impression of his cross-cultural dubstep style to take root. It's a bit of a rag-tag collection in its mix of collaborations and singles but a cohesive feel establishes itself nonetheless. Kush Arora coats his dubstep with Eastern-inflected darkness, and offsets its tribal leanings with electronic treatments and production design. All the signature genre elements are in place in the opener “Boiling Over”—driving dub bass lines and wobbly synth sputter at the forefront—with Arora's surging drum programming giving the track added urgency. Acoustic elements—flute and hand percussion, among them—mix with programmed drums and bass wobble in his “industrial espionage” mix of Sub Swara's “Alabaster Dub,” and the formal collaboration with Sub Swara, “Constructing the Absence,” perpetuates the music's exotic character when Naveeen Iyer's flute playing is featured prominently. Anthemic horns and melodica bring an old-school feel to the stepping digi-dub of “We're Upstairs,” a collaboration with J. Rogers and Jo Rozinski; “Dealbreaker” sneaks a grooving 2-step feel into its trippy sputter; and “SF Shuffle Riddim” brings the sunnier and funkier sides of Arora's music to the surface. One the album's most episodic tracks, “The Staircase” is initially more lowdown funk than dubstep, though it includes dramatic moments of symphonic sweep as well before shifting into uptempo dubstep attack mode in its second half. In short, there's lots going on, and Arora packs a goodly amount of detail into the album's tracks. For the record, though, there's not a whole lot new or innovative added to the dubstep template, aside from the Eastern twist he brings to it.Nommo Ogo, by comparison, brings a more unique dynamic to the table. The group (which emerged from the Anchorage, Alaska psychedelic noise scene in 1996, currently operates out of Oakland, California, and performs in identity-concealing garb), specializes in a shamanistic brand of long-form psychedelic ambient that's produced using mixers, hardware sequencers, analog and older digital synthesizers, drum machines, electro-acoustic processing, and an occasional vocal, whether it be hushed and garbled. Material generated live in semi-improvised manner is sculpted into final form using a methodical post-production process. Birthed between 2002 and 2006, Across Time And Space might well be the group's definitive statement to date, though one would have to be familiar with its past output to make such a claim (I'm not). Of this, however, one can be sure: theirs is a constantly mutating music that unfolds according to an inner organic logic that renders a given piece an unpredictable and travelogue-like feel. The sixty-eight minutes of material are listed under seven titles (which clarify the year and locale where the tracks were recorded), but the album is best regarded as a whole, specifically a restless cauldron of alchemical electro-acoustic abstractions. Beats sometimes surface to anchor the material and give it forward momentum, plus conventionalize the group's oft-alien sound. A modicum of gentle, even lyrical moments (the beginning of “A Call to Cats on the mMoon” and a brief vocodered episode near the end of “Esoterrorcle,” for instance) alternate with psychically disturbed passages (the sixteen-minute opener “ Induction ”) in a collection that feels a primordial brew belching its way to the geological surface, no matter the modern-day technological devices involved.