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Album Review

Sexotica is Sex Mob's homage to Martin Denny and the sound of Exotica, but don't go in expecting a Quiet Village. Instead, it seems like the idea was to create their own very personal soundworld, much the way Denny did, but using different tools and sounds. In many ways, it's just another step in a logical progression for Sex Mob. They've never been afraid of using studio tricks; previous releases were co-produced by Scotty Hard who added some of his own sonic treatments, but this time out the entire album is a full-on collaboration between the production team of Good and Evil (Danny Blume and Christian Castagno) and the band, where the music and production are practically equal players. The tunes were recorded live in the studio (first or second takes), with Kenny Wollesen overdubbing various percussion. Then the tapes were simply handed over to Blume and Castagno to do what they wanted, keeping in mind leader Steven Bernstein's admonition to divide the sound about equally between the band tracks and the production. It's a trippy and sometimes confusing mix of organic instrumentation and production techniques that often makes it difficult to figure out who's doing what. There are Briggan Krauss' saxophones, Bernstein's slide trumpet, Tony Scherr on bass, and Wollesen's drums and percussion (all of which may or may not be treated), but there's also scratching, samples, bits of studio chatter, crazy stereo panning, rhythm boxes and programming, dub techniques, and bits of sonic flotsam and jetsam that all weave in and out through the mix. Oh yeah, it grooves like crazy too, from the tribal "Pygmy Suite" to the slinky "Quiet" to the ferocious ending of "7 Bars." Bernstein and Krauss are both wonderfully deranged players when they want to be, and there's some nice soloing on Sexotica, but it's more about feel and mood on this album than soloing. Sex Mob's mission has always been to bring jazz back into the popular mainstream, not as a museum piece but as music of the people: dance music, the way it was before the business of music took precedence over the music. They play loose, they play fun, and they play to make you move. There's never been a jazz album that sounded like this, but Sex Mob have been in a league of their own for some time now. Jazz purists will hate it, but that's part of the fun too. If you've got an ear for adventurous jazz and a good groove, make travel plans to go to Sex Mob's land of Sexotica. It's quite a trip.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Sex Mob began merely as a setting to feature the slide trumpet of leader Steven Bernstein, but has grown into a band with a much larger mission: to put the fun back in jazz music. After assembling the band (Bernstein, slide trumpet; Briggan Krauss, alto sax; Tony Scherr, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums), Sex Mob began a residency at the Knitting Factory, playing predominantly originals written by Bernstein. During a special evening of film music, the crowd went crazy for the "James Bond Theme," and Bernstein...
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Sexotica, Sex Mob
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