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Explorative music for
body and soul

Mahjongg - Kontpab
(K Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 1, 2008

Review by Tony Bonyata

Tired of the same-old, same-old and ready to move onto something musically different in the New Year? Then the Chicago collective Mahjongg's sophomore effort, Kontpab, will undoubtedly be a welcome introduction to 2008 for those who crave not only something new and challenging, but also slightly 'out there.'

On this nine-track album the seven-piece band combs the stratosphere for otherworldly electronica, dance floor techno and African polyrhythms to deliver an album that's refreshingly new and invigorating. At times the band weaves in tribal rhythms and detached vocals much in the same manner as the Talking Heads when they teamed up with producer Brian Eno for two of their most rewarding albums (1979's Fear of Music and 1980's Remain In Light). "Rise Rice" and "Kottbusser Torr" are both perfect examples of the Heads' influence, with the latter even incorporating a geometrical guitar line in the vein of Robert Fripp's later work with prog rock progenitors King Crimson. On "Problems" they lay down a disorienting, hallucinogenic beat while an airy melody on xylophone places the occasional reassuring light kiss throughout. While at first this may all seem like music for the body - with its rhythmic propulsions and beat-driven mayhem - it also turns out to be soothing for the mind as well with well thought out arrangements and production values that perfectly marry state-of-the-art digital perfection with warm human idiosyncrasies and blemishes.

Through it all Mahjongg blends together old and new for an inventive exploration into different musical realms, while keeping the primal human instinct to move to arresting rhythms (both primitive and futuristic) at the forefront of their music.

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