By: Josh Potter
While most laptop savvy beat producers have adopted an unabashed preference for the synthetic tools in their kit, Mocean Worker (aka Adam Dorn) likes to keep it organic. Maybe it's because he's a bassist who can hold his own on just about everything else, too. Perhaps it all stems from a childhood surrounded by jazz legends or the influence of his father, legendary jazz/R&B producer Joel Dorn. Be what it may, Cinco de Mowo! (Mowo!,Inc) is the kind of album that begs for a turntable, a scotch on the rocks and a room full of finger-popping hepcats.
The video for "Shake Ya Boogie" might say it all. In the style of Bosco cartoons or Steamboat Willie, it's a happy day at the factory and everything is swinging. The sun is smiling and smokestacks chug jaunty big band horn riffs. No one has a care in the world. And this is how most of the album proceeds. A collage of classic swing samples fills out a backdrop of live instrumentation, and, for the most part, the distinction is imperceptible. Trombones punctuate clarinet lines while syrupy strings drift in and out. Throughout, the rhythm section pushes a boom-bap beat that might as well be backing A Tribe Called Quest or the Digable Planets.
Cinco de Mowo!, Dorn's fifth album under the Mocean Worker moniker, is clearly a fusion of the old to the new. "Les and Eddie," an homage to the legendary soul-jazz duo Les McCann and Eddie Harris, uses the head to their classic "Cold Duck Time" as its cornerstone. In addition to musical allusions, Dorn enlists the support of jazz greats Marcus Miller, Herb Alpert and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Like a Blue Note remix, the use of organic instruments and accessible beats leads to one thing: danceability. While the horn riffs he selects can be too hooky (and kooky) for their own good - a product, no doubt, of Dorn's success placing tracks in movies and commercials - they will stick in your head with singer-songwriter-like adhesive.
It might not be uncommon, while listening to Cinco de Mowo! to crave milk and cookies, but that might be entirely beside the point. Circuit-benders and glitch-hoppers regularly exploit the squareness of kitchy synths and 8-bit electronics. Why can't Mocean Worker have the Charleston?
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