Ryan Barclay, Kurt Johnson and Justin Rister, well known through-out the Northeast as The Moho Collective have released another full-length album, Anicca, full of musical artistry and mystical arrangement. Anicca marks their second studio effort and from cover to mix features their usual hands-on approach to all facets of each release and live performance.
Anicca is the belief that all things, including the self, are impermanent and constantly changing, the first of the three basic characteristics of existence. Not a surprising statement from three musicians whose collective personality reflects this belief beautifully through their live performances, which this album is. Recorded live with very few overdubs, raw and precise, fiery and brash, full of growth evidence that the band is evolving. Just the song titles alone should send you off to Google.
“Lingua Franca”, the opener, is playful, then thunderous, opening with what seems to be a toy car horn, rhythmic and distant, diving into a swirling traffic jam. “Chikyu Hakken” takes a fast turn East, pulling on the Asian strings, literally, almost as if they’re deriving a kinematic equation musically. There’s a syncopated quality that underlies the staccato guitar line with such a natural feel you’d think the guys were native to this, but it’s just the brilliance of The Moho, flexing subtly their band’s muscle and heart. Quickly changing direction, directed by Justin’s reggae/funk intro to Rainbow Young”, (Uticans will be familiar), you think you know right where they’re going, especially when Ryan and Kurt kick the groove in, but just like that, they’ll hit you right in the chest, sending you spinning off into a metal-tinged break, then right back to the funky groove. Proving even more the title fits, as even the groove isn’t permanent, it changes and morphs to fit the Delft-like explosions of The Moho’s collective energies.
“Oil On Canvas, 13x 29” fits right into why I’ve loved this band from first listen. Kurt’s guitar voicing is so literal, it makes the idea of vocals seem redundant, while Ryan and Justin seem to be of one mind, or at least interchangeable. It’s such a natural feel, it’s the rising and falling dynamics, the swells and swales that fall out from under you, then catch you gently, steadying for the next lift-off. “Chalet” carries on the thought with Kurt getting a loop going to ignite a quick rise from a Frippertronic hallucination into a Hendrixian explosion and back again. The return of Ryan’s didgeridoo haunts “Bamal” and signals another directional change deftly accompanied by Justin’s bass segueing into “Sampa”, yet another ethnicity, another chance to stretch out, this time Kurt calling out his inner-Belew circa 1985, absolutely brilliant work. “Dar Klite” soars gently, wistfully, then forcefully until leveling into a jazzy jam, ala “Return To Forever”. It’s the dynamics man! The dynamics! Another segue into “Wenindee”, flat-out Moho pyrotechnics, the rhythm section pounds and pulses, Johnson’s guitar soars then signals the out and it’s over. I wait for another track, but it’s done, well, just click play again, it’s a fabulous ride. After you let “Wenindee” play out, of course.
Key Tracks: Oil On Canvas, 13 x 29, Chalet, Bamal, Sampa, Wenindee
The Moho Collective is Justin Riser (bass), Kurt Johnson (guitar), Ryan Barclay (drums). The sessions were recorded live between March 3rd and 5th, 2012 at The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts with the tracks edited and prepared by Matthew D. Guarnere and Calvin May , mixed at Blackdog Recording Studios in Rochester by M.D.G. and Kurt Johnson and mastered to analog tape at What’s Real Unlimited, also in Rochester by M.D.G.. Matthew is credited as producer as well, along with the band.