Photo by Peter Varshavsky
Adding up the diverse backgrounds of the members of Gojogo hints at the San Francisco collective’s enchanting intersection of Middle Eastern traditionalism and avante-garde jazz classicism. On the largely instrumental 28,000 Days, the melodic fusion makes for a rewarding exercise in which the cerebral material doesn’t consume the listener in an extroverted manner. Rather, the quartet’s textured compositions force you to come to them.
Apart from the measured performances of its participants, the key to Gojogo’s elegance resides with production values and patient tempos that prize tonal nuance. A majority of the understated pieces incrementally unfold, taking small steps that shade honeyed romantic themes and cautiously optimistic moods. Free of humor, songs nonetheless steer clear for the type of intellectual seriousness that often arises in such hybrid works. Percussionist Elias Reitz employs electronic washes and exotic percussion- including a double-headed north Indian drum called the dholki to paint background canvases with swirled colors and multidimensional strokes. The latter contrast chamber-like string fare and acoustic bass grooves, bonding together arrangements ranging from gypsy ballads to cinematic dreamscapes.
The only occasion on which the group sounds forced comes during a version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Bali Hai.” Guest Will Sprott’s vocals are out of step with the creeping vibe and subtract from the experience. A one-off with Stuart Bogie’s tenor saxophone during “Hide” proves much more successful, extending the swing-rock territory Morphine bridged two decades ago.
-Bob Gendron Downbeat Magazine
© 2006-2013 Gojogo