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January/February 2005

M.O.T.
Modern Madness or Tribal Truth?
Lop Lop

Modern Madness or Tribal Truth? (Loplop), by the Dutch group M.O.T., features a fascinating amalgam of African rhythms, straightahead and free jazz as well as various exotic influences that rivet the attention and stimulate the senses throughout. With a collective instrumentation of alto clarinet, E-flat clarinet, violin, piano, electric keyboards (and samples), tuba, drum set, African drums and small percussion, the group weaves a thick textured melodic, harmonic and rhythm fabric. Some of the music is composed (all but one track by the leader and clarinetist Steven Kamperman), and much of it is improvised by the technically and musically exceptional players. Zambian-born drummer Michael Baird who’s also an African-music scholar and the Senegalese drummer Ousmane Seye, aided by keyboardist Albert Van Veenendaal and tubist Patrick Votrian, provide a complex but forward-moving rhythmic setting. Over and through that, Kamperman and violinist Jasper Le Clercq sing, dance, whisper and cry sometimes in a hard-bop mode, sometimes in free-jazz style, sometimes in a manner resistant to categorization, but always in a way that’s fresh and interesting.

Originally published in January/February 2005
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