OK, so Ban Ban Ton Ton has a vested interest in this one, since super reviewer, Cal Gibson, is one of the talented folks involved, but this isn’t simply a case of nepotism, honest. The quality of the 7-track E.P. speaks for itself. This is Cal in cahoots with multifaceted musician, Jules Brennan, and the mysterious, SATO – who provides snatches of traditional Japanese song on the opening seductive, post-trip hop syncopation of Zabalon. Jules is currently Kyoto-based, prompting his pieces to incorporate both musical motifs and native instrumentation from his adopted homeland. So this is jazz-funk, but with added shakuhachi and shamisen. Cinematic chase themes accompanied by the zing of a koto zither.
In his Secret Soul Society guise, Cal has developed a pretty distinctive sound. That of bass-heavy beatdowns, where the Detroit of not only Norm Talley and Dwayne Jensen, but also Parliament / Funkadelic are big influences, and above all Jamaican dub is the teacher. The devilishly delayed Stumbled Up, for example is like Erykah Badu in King Tubby / Dr. Satan`s echo chamber.
The standout for me this time, though, is Jules` incredibly accomplished, Zoomalala. Percussive, latin-infused, and with a bit of bossa in the guitar picking, my notes say, “Imagine Atmosfear covering Lonnie Liston Smith`s Expansions, off in outer space.” It`s the sort of side that the brilliant Backatcha can be trusted to uncover, and essential listening for fans of Brownswood`s STR4TA and Secret Night Gang.