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Mostly Other People Do the Killing — Disasters Vol. 1
(Hot Cup Records no#, 2022, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-02-06

Disasters Vol. 1 Cover art

Once again in trio format, Mostly Other People Do the Killing presents seven more compositions written in honor of towns in Pennsylvania, this time (as the title implies) focusing on places that have experienced disasters of various kinds. As soon as “Three Mile Island” kicks off, you know you’re in for a wild ride, as flurries of piano notes collide with weird electronic noises, frenetic drums, and wandering bass. Moppa Elliott is of course on bass, and is the composer; Ron Stabinsky is at the piano, and also contributes to the electronic chaos; drummer Kevin Shea also supplements his kit with electronics. Some of the towns are honored with pieces that fit more or less into traditional jazz idioms, though in all cases they are twisted by both the free-roaming instrumental interpretations of the musicians and the sci-fi blips, bloops, sweeps, and echoes of the electronics. If you listened to just the piano and bass of “Exeter,” for example, you’d hear a tasty swing ballad with sweet chords and a catchy melody. But Shea plays freely throughout, frantically attacking his kit and electronic triggers as if he’s being swarmed by a hive of hornets. Or maybe the hornets are playing the drums… “Centralia” is at core a kind of boogaloo, but it too is warped in fascinating ways. Shea is constantly inventive, with a definition of “swing” that encompasses all manner of cross rhythms, tuples, and unexpected accents. There have been numerous other artists who have incorporated electronic instruments into jazz, but none has ever been like this. MOPDTK’s genius is to produce supremely experimental music that is also supremely entertaining. And it’s not just the intrusion of R2-D2 noises into a swinging blues tune, or the “drummer’s in the wrong band” way Shea approaches rhythm. This really is jazz for the 21st Century, and anyone who says it’s too weird needs to lighten up.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Matthew "Moppa" Elliott

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