Exposé Online banner

Mumpbeak — Tooth
(RareNoise RNR078, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-07-08

Tooth Cover art

In progressive rock, the quintessential keyboard trio is obviously Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In that group, Keith Emerson played a wide variety of keyboards including piano, organ, and many kinds of synthesizer. On the jazz side, there are numerous examples of the keyboard trio, usually with either piano or organ at the core, only much less often with multiple instruments used. With Mumpbeak, Roy Powell takes a different path, one much less traveled — or maybe never traveled before. He concentrates almost exclusively on a Hohner Clavinet, that icon of 70s funk so familiar from the hits of Stevie Wonder. Clavinets were also part of the standard arsenal of prog keyboardists, acting as stand-ins for the harpsichord, which would never be practical in an amplified context. Powell reasoned that in many ways, the tone of a Clavinet is similar to that of an electric guitar, so he started treating it as such, applying effects pedals and using it as a combination lead and rhythm instrument. On the first Mumpbeak album, he enlisted Pat Mastelotto on drums and four different bassists for various tracks: Bill Laswell, Tony Levin, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, and Lorenzo Feliciati. Since then, he’s decided to make Mumpbeak a working unit based in Europe, so he’s teamed with Feliciati and Norwegian drummer Torstein Lofthus, making a kind of all-star trio. We know Powell from Naked Truth and InterStatic, Feliciati from Naked Truth and solo releases, and Lofthus from Elephant9. The music on Tooth straddles avant jazz and progressive rock very nicely, with a sonic kinship to Canterbury bands like Egg and Matching Mole. The compositions are full of sophisticated chords and tricky rhythms, and the melodies are memorable without being predictable. Feliciati is an equal participant, often taking the melodic lead on his bass; Lofthus can be subtle or thunderous as the music demands. Powell’s Clavinet is clearly at the center, and it more than handles the task. While there are occasional bits of organ or synth to add color, the vast majority of the sound comes from the old Hohner. The use of a whammy pedal is particularly effective, allowing him to bend notes more like a synth or guitar. Factor in distortion and wah-wah, and there’s plenty of power and variety to make Tooth an eminently enjoyable listen. It’s another winner from RareNoise.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Lorenzo Feliciati, Mumpbeak

More info
http://mumpbeak.bandcamp.com/album/tooth

Latest news

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Five Fifteen - Six Dimensions of the Electric Camembert – For their fourth album (the first I’ve heard), Finland’s Five Fifteen continue their tradition of long psychedelic titles. Gong fans don’t be fooled, the mention of the French cheese...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues