Psychedelic pranksters M'lumbo return with the amusingly titled Celestial Ghetto. The title of the album is quite fitting as M'lumbo draw from many sources and can alternate seamlessly between the gritty and the ethereal. With M'lumbo, there is no distinction between high and low art where refined soloing is juxtaposed against a sense of nutty humor. This might be irritating to some (why obscure a perfectly good solo with seemingly random samples?) but this recording is refreshingly free from intellectual pretenses.
The sound itself is expansive and dense. There is a lot of space and a lot of clutter in this music at precisely the same time. Psychedelic washes of sound and a variety samples help create a sense of druggy distance, but there are so many solos and voices that the songs can sound frantic and unorganized. The production is excellently done. A bad job would have hopelessly buried the layers of this album in an unrecognizable mess. The album sounds immediate, full and clear enough to hear everything that is going on—and there is a lot going on.
The winding solos, room for improvisation and general daring tip Celestial Ghetto off as a jazz record. That said, fans of left field hip-hop or electronically minded jam bands will likely feel right at home with this recording. Digitalized beats and samples are prevalent. There are bleeps and bloops, funky drums and smug samples in every nook and cranny of this recording.
In short, the playing is good enough to reward careful listening, although the samples can often make it difficult to concentrate on the subtleties of the instrumentalists. But Celestial Ghetto succeeds on its own terms. It is a stubbornly original, well played and fun recording. Any music fan looking for something unique, carefree and perhaps a bit insane might do well to check this release out.