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Album Review

It's not too often that a band can get away with releasing a beat album as their introduction to the world. However, said band is helped significantly if the members are also all percussionists in hipster faves Tortoise, have had vast experience in various other side projects, one of the members is indie rock star extraordinaire John McEntire, and the label that is associated with the project is the influential and left-field leaning Stones Throw. Such is the case with Bumps, the three-man group comprised of McEntire, Dan Bitney, and John Herndon. Their self-titled debut is a driven, fast-paced record where none of the tracks reach much past the two-minute mark, and things like the ten-bar, nineteen-second "Thorny Joint" don't seem out of place, as the trio focus their efforts on playing layered, syncopated rhythms, combining kits with hand drums, other percussion, and the occasional synth, tympanis and toms the closest thing to a melody. But with all of this going on, the most surprising thing about Bumps is how straightforward it is. Most of the songs stay in 4/4, with few time changes or added effects to complicate them; not that the rhythms themselves are simple, but the truth of the matter is that Bumps is a beat album more than anything else, not made of samples or scratches or computer tricks. It's organic, live drumming, so it doesn't concern itself with bells or whistles. It's music that's begging to be mixed with old soul records or heavy bass rants and rapped over, and the band clearly knows this, choosing lots of hollow, old-school beats alongside the Latin- and techno-influenced rhythms. Bumps is a niche record, that's for sure, with sharp, interesting beats that manage to sound fresh even if they're just variations of the same theme, but it's also an album that's surprisingly fun, energetic, and exciting, an album that will definitely please the production-oriented, but should also interest anyone just wanting something a little off-the-radar.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Yet another one of the myriad of bands formally associated with Tortoise, the instrumental percussion group Bumps is comprised of Dan Bitney, John Herndon, and the seemingly constantly active John McEntire. Avant-hip-hop label Stones Throw took notice of the...
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