This album has been a very long time in the making. M’lumbo first approached us in 1996 with a tape of an album that they had finished. It was an excellent mix of avant-jazz with world music beats and textures. It captivated us with it’s unique sounds. Due to some confusion, that album was eventually released by Staalplaat. It turns out to have been a good thing, because the M’lumbo crew put together a whole new album for us that is much much better. They still have elements of world music in their stew, but now it’s updated with more electronic sounds and textures. It shows how the band continue to mature and grow and refuse to get stale. This album was released on October 5th, 1999.
- Alternative Press - June, 2000
(rated 4 out of 5) Esoteric, trippy mind journeys in the manner of the Orb.
Dunno who or what Kobalt 6 is, but M'lumbo are a trio of talented musical jokers aided by various guest musicians and hangers-on, who are more interested in challenging themselves than in reaching a mass audience. Previous releases have offered wacky interpretations of movie and TV themes, played with a vaguely free-jazz/world-beat orientation, but on this Spinning Tourists In A City Of Ghosts, M'lumbo jump headfirst into sampling and studio wizardry, moving obliquely in various directions and often sounding a lot like the Orb in their most mind-expanding incarnation. The seven generously proportioned pieces on the CD are loosely stitched together with vocal loops, music samples, nature sounds, drones and the riff-oriented playing of the trio and guests, who can be heard on muted trumpet, sax, guitar, bass, keyboards, and percussion - generally laying down a skewed but urbane jazz-funk goove with occaisional ethnic overtones (sitar, hand percussion, etc) Sometimes, as on the long and sprawling "Soul Exchange," the thread gets lost, and the vision quest threatens to degenerate into a disjointed fever dream. Elsewhere, though, an overall shape is at least hinted at, or a direction maintained, or an atmosphere sustained - which makes most of the aural journeys on this CD well worth listening. - Bill Tilland
- Auf Abwegen - Issue #29
- (joint review with Retro AKA)
Gäbe es eine Rubrik "Platten, die wir nicht verstanden haben", so würde M'lubos Clash mit Kobalt 6 garantiert darunter fallen. Noch wohlig in Erinnerung mit einer Insektenablauschscheibe auf Staalplaats God Factory-Sublabel klingt die Combo auf vorliegender Scheibe nun plötzlich von allen guten Geistern verlassen. Die Musik macht den Anschein, als hätten sich 30 Personen in einem Proberaum eigenschlossen, mit den Ziel eine Band zu gründen. Das Problem ist, daß jeder seine stilistischen Vorlieben einbringen will. Entsprechend wird auf Spinning Tourists... zu viel in zu kurzer Zeit zusammengewurslet: schmalziger Ambient-Wutsch, knistriges Experiment, döselige Spoken Word Parts und grauslige Beats. Hier gilt das alte amerikanische Sprichwort: zu viele Köche..., naja ihr wißt schon....
- Bizarre - Issue #12
Following on from an album of covers of TV Theme Songs, done in avant-jazz style, comes this 'Eno'/'Talking Heads' sounding album title, which has taken on board electronica, ambient and world beats.
They are a shifting collective of New York Musicians who are difficult to label. Melding tribal rhythms and break beats, cut-ups and electronic ambiences, they sound like a polished earlier - 'Cabaret Voltaire'.
Shifting from dance orientated to soundscape mixing in Kitsch and exotica along the way, producing a dream-like travelogue. Restless like the planet and the modern cosmopolitan urban environment.
- Creative Loafing - 2/5/00
(joint review with Vas Deferns Oganization)
It's easy to imagine the musical shapes on these discs were created by fringe groups of drug-munching basement-dwellers, existing just outside the glare of popular culture. They probably feed sounds and samples into their computers and tape machines with abandon, mixing them down with a method that doesn't easily reveal itself. The results are collages, as inviting as they are forbodding, that would nicely compliment any William Burroughs-inspired evening.
M'lumbo (with their visual cohort Kobalt 6), on the other hand, are like a cabal of eccentric Kabbalists, trying to map sonic in-routes to untapped mental regions. Like VDO, it's cut 'n'paste time in the freak factory. But M'lumbo's fluid procedure gives the listener room to stop and take inventory from time to time. Spinning Tourists is like a frenzied version of Paul Schutze's cinematic Deus Ex Machina: impelling yet somehow calming, and almost always in control. - Mitchell Foy
- Digital Artifact - Issue #14
- Like a twisting, non-linear progression of sound, comes the latest work of M'lumbo and Kobalt 6 entitled "Spinning Tourists in a City of Ghosts", an enigmatically appealing, chaotically rhythmic experimentalist's vision of a Utopian world. M'lumbo's sound, characteristic of previous releases via Staalplaat, combines elements of jazz, African tribal percussion, obscure sampling, and a wide array of normal, everyday sounds taken slightly out of context to produce a soundscape tapestry that confuses, distorts, entices, and beckons one's train of thought. The overall aura to tracks like "The Secret of Fear" and "Playing at Random" echo shifting shades of lightness to darkness and vice-versa, unveiling the complex, technical inner structure of the music. What is offered is a larger in-depth look into the minds of visionary sound sculptors M'lumbo - Art
- The Rocket - January 26th Issue
- Ambient droning, improvisational collage noise, avant jazz and electronic rhythm, M'lumbo's latest offers a heady mix that's hard to pin down. With a splash of funky rhythms in the middle of "The Secret of Fear" and "Sprawling Mausoleums" as well as tribal beats in several tracks including "Call This Number Now and Change Your Life Forever" and you really have a strange brew. The seven tracks, most of them in the 10-minute range, might be considered sprawling, cluttered and unfocused, at times a slurry of improvised electro-noise, but then a wonderfully noir-ish trumpet riff soars through the fog to create a breath-taking juxtaposition. Added to this are some looped and distorted found-vocal snippets, often in the wacko-religious or sci-fi vein, that also help keep the album coherent and fascinating. Dark and hallucinatory, but with a loose improv feel, Spinning Tourists sounds like what the phrase acid jazz conjures up more than any of the music that conventionally falls under that label.
- C & D Services
- Imagine a collision between Tackhead, Eno-era Talking Heads, Bill Laswell, mid- '70's Miles Davis, a bit of drum 'n' bass, and you're a bit close to the whole spirit and feel of this unique album, to which mere words cannot even begin to do justice to convey the musical constructions that you are going to hear on this album. Even as a giant musical cooking pot, it will exceed your wildest imaginations, using samples, western drums, African drums, fusion guitar, electronics, electronic drums, electric bass, wind instruments, clattering percussion, synth bursts, more samples, trumpet and more, in a series of 10 tracks in over seventy minutes. The whole thing is so totally mind-boggling, it can safely be said that you've never heard anything like this before. It's a musical experience like no other and you are so struck by it, that you listen to the whole thing whether you intended to do so or not. It's so new, refreshing that you consistently find new things in the mix and new ways of enjoying it every time you play it. Contemporary music never sounded so good or so unique and you cannot fault this album. - Andy G.
- Dead Angel - Issue #40
- M'lumbo is a very strange band. Outside of their hard-to-peg sound -- they essentially hopscotch wildly from genres as disparate as jazz, world beat, swing, music concrete, psychedelic, and electronica (sort of) -- they have a peculiar sense of humor, as evidenced by the fact that apparently this is actually just M'lumbo (if there really is a Kobalt 6, it's not made evident in the press thingy or the liner notes, although mention is made of a forthcoming video with the same title as the album). The first track, "Science Headquarters," makes their mission fairly explicit: to slice and dice as many genres as possible into a seamless stew of sound. Against a backdrop of distorted dialogue and found sound, they move from jazz to to swing to world beat and back, occasionally dropping into jungle mode while playing cocktail jazz over the top. Strange, disorienting stuff with a holistic approach to songwriting (in other words, if it has notes they play it, regardless of what genre the notes actually came from). That it works at all is a minor miracle -- crosshatching genres is tougher than it looks -- and the fact that it works well is a testament to their formidable instrumental skills. This same tack of style-hopping continues, in a slower and more subdued vein, in "The Soul Exchange," sounding mainly like a world-beat track overlaid with music concrete. By the time "The Secret of Fear" and "Playing at Random" have played through, with much the same strategy, it becomes obvious that this is all intended to evoke a mood rather an a specific response -- it all sounds like the soundtrack to an imaginary (or, if the liner notes are to be believed, maybe not so imaginary after all) film. Found sounds are far more predominant than actual music in "Call This Number Now and Change Your Life Forever" -- the music is there, but it's clearly subordinate to the other material, which is an interesting approach. Noisy music concrete continues to be the norm for the first few minutes of "Sprawling Masoleums," until an erratic technobeat begins to crop up, augmented by world beat and the occasional jazzy noodling. The effect is much like wandering through a crowded city street where different forms of music play on every block, soaking up conversations and snatches of music while constantly on the move.They incorporate new elements of drone into the final track, "All You Have To Do Is Relax and Listen (and Let Your Subconscious Do the Rest)" -- a retreat into minimalism of sorts (or at least more minimal, anyway); the drone gives way to heartbeat sounds and eventually the drone returns, along with occasional beats, while the dialogue and found sound mutter on constantly in the background. All of this imaginary soundtrack stuff makes me wonder what the actual film looks like. Recommended for those who have always tried to imagine what ambient and music concrete would sound like together. - RKF
- Earpollution - January, 2000
- To listen to M'lumbo is to tap into the psychic history of the building where you live. There are echoes of old television shows still blaring out windows opened to the hot summer winds, of older steam pipes still knocking and gasping beneath your feet, of voices indistinct and muffled through decades of paint and plaster. Decrepit telephones ring in the distance. Radio announcers try to sell you products which haven't existed for over twenty years. Water drips in your basin and the floorboards in the hall creak with the passage of lame ghosts. Through this seeming cacophony wanders the haunted specters of old jazz men--trumpet players and saxophone crooners--lisping melodies lost since Prohibition. An old Victrola that has been lovingly kept is wheezing down the hall, its needle stuck near the inner edge of an extinct 78. Wind, lost and confused, gets caught in the ancient weathervane on the roof and keens endlessly for its freedom. And M'lumbo, through whatever arcane arts they have managed to teach themselves, add just a breath of a beat; just enough to give all these phantoms something to latch onto. Suddenly, you can hear the naturally majestic music that lives and grows year after year in the walls, in the very breath of your city. - Mark Teppo
- Exclaim! - February 2000
- M'Lumbo are a trio of experimental audio artists from NYC who create a mind boggling sound collage, with their blend jazz, world rhythms and electronic effects. On their release, Spinning Tourists..., they create an environment full of bizarre samples and soundscapes that cannot be pinned into any of the multitude of genres they employ. The opening track, "Science Headquarters," blends dark and distorted vocal samples, tribal drums, drum & bass and jazz trumpet to conjure an image of mad science gone freakishly wrong. On "Call this Number and Change Your Life Forever," the mood becomes less frantic but equally challenging, sampling a vast array of mutated word blips over an ambient backdrop. The mood continues on "Sprawling Masoleums," where hundreds of spirits speak at once over electro-breakbeats, jazz guitar noodling and techno bleeps. This album challenges the listener to comprehend the multitude of parts that make up its whole but at times, it becomes schizophrenic and difficult to decipher, kind of like an acid trip - exciting, terrifying and incomprehensible. - Marc Roy
- Improvijazzation Nation - Issue #39
- 'nother shining release in from Unit Circle Rekkids. You'll BELIEVE in ghosts by th' time this conglomeration of high-mix electronic insanity (if you DON'T, you're probably PART of M'lumbo)! "The Secret Of Fear" will have yer' ticker twangin', verzure! Those who want nice "chamber music" sort o' predictability will go elsewhere, but if yer' lookin' for somethin' DIFFERENT, GET this! It gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me. UCR takes us into thee 21st with scads of style on this one! - Rotcod Zzaj
- Outburn - Issue #11
- :OVER THE EDGE EXPERIMENTAL: M'lumbo gained a signficant amount of press and praise in the early 90's for their avant-jazz interpretations of TV theme songs on several albums. Now this three man group of truly wacky individuals, has released a seven track experimental album drawing upon sound collage, jazz, electronica, ambient and world beat. Spinning Tourists in a City of Ghosts opens with one of the oddest songs I have ever heard, "Science Headquarters." Complete with jazz horns, soulful keyboards, breakbeats, synths, distorted deep mumbling vocals, percussion, electronics, and numerous other instruments all assembled in a chaotic fashion, M'lumbo demonstrate that they are experimental to the extreme. "The Soul Exchange" opens with a soothing blend of female voices, a deep voice repeating "the soul exchange," acoustic guitars, and synths which slowly mutates into a gentle barrage of different voices that become more random as this song progresses. One of my favorite tracks, "Sprawling Mausoleums" transforms from dark droning with odd vocal samples to upbeat and dancey with techno elements and a vaguely familiar ambiance. The song winds down into a relaxed state then shifts again to upbeat and finally comes to a screeching halt. The other songs include "Playing at Random," which is oddly enough one of the two least random songs on the album, "Call This Number Now and Change Your Life Forever" with a tongue in cheek attitude, and "The Secret of Fear" with creepy undertones. The final track poses the suggestion, "All You Have To Do Is Relax and Listen (And Let Your Subconscious Do the Rest)," but the real question is, do you really want to let M'lumbo into your subconscious? M'lumbo's music may be difficult with their unexpected transitions, unusal styles, and chaotic compositions, but their abstract, thought provoking songs do grow on you, M'lumbo is a unique experience that could prove itself well woeth the effort with underlying themes and emotions to discover amidst the chaos. - Octavia
- Vital Weekly - Issue 208
- Combining jazz, easy listening, afro, dance and collage seems unlikely, maybe even impossible. But let me tell you it's not. M'lumbo do it without so much as a frown. Instruments are played with obvious ease, snippets of film sounds have been cut appropriately, samples taken with care, and all this mixed with pleasure into an orgy of postmodern delight (although they seem to lose track every now and then). This is weird stuff for weird people (no drugs needed!). Have fun with your guests! - MR