There’s a lot going on in Harmonouche’s music—for one thing, they’re about the only non-blues band I can think of that’s led by a harmonica player, and they have four diverse soloists in the lineup. But what grabs me most about this CD is the way Raphael Bas sings: Voicing in heavily accented French, he sounds like a likeably roguish character, and evinces a joie de vivre that’s the perfect fit for the band’s music.
Although vintage British psychedelia is viewed by many these days as an Alice In Wonderland-style enchanted garden full of beatific flower children innocently gathering flowers or chasing butterflies, there was always a more visceral element to the scene. Pointedly free of such fripperies as scarlet tunic-wearing gnomes, phenomenal cats and talismanic bicycles, the power trio format that was popularised by the likes of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience spawned a host of imitators. As the Sixties drew to a close and pop evolved slowly but inexorably into rock, psychedelia gave way to a sound that was harder, leaner, heavier, louder.
No sooner had Mostly Other People Do the Killing expanded to a septet with Loafer's Hollow (Hot Cup Records, 2017) than they shrink to their smallest formation to date with the trio release Paint. Founding member, bassist, and composer Moppa Elliott is joined by pianist Ron Stabinsky and drummer Kevin Shea. Trumpeter Peter Evans had departed the group before its 2015 Mauch Chunk album and now without Jon Irabagon's alto saxophone in the lineup, the sound takes a very different form. But convention has never been the MOPDtK modus operandi and this piano trio is hardly traditional.
Blowing up Mostly Other People Do the Killing from its core quartet to a septet may seem like an invitation to dance on the musical third rail. The group that has always straddled the broad and fuzzy line between tradition and chaotic improvisation, has nevertheless managed that process with a mixture of sophistication, revelation and unbridled enthusiasm. Loafer's Hollow is a surprising entry to their catalog of one-dozen releases.