Mahatma X – A Mobtown Suite Vol. 1
For their latest release, the people at Home Assembly have chosen something a bit different. Either the town of Saltaire, West Yorkshire has relocated to Detroit or something’s definitely brewing in the Yorkshire water. Whatever, there’s definitely a ‘substance’ of sorts throughout the music. As it turns out, I’m not going completely mad – Mahatma X hail from Philadelphia.
The album’s actually quite a melting pot of different sounds, ideas and collages. Only two of the tracks stretch to longer than three minutes in length and many of them feel like loose ideas on which Mahatma X build their layers of chilled-out, jazzy hip-hop instrumentals.
There’s surprisingly little in the way of continuity; Where ‘MurdaUS’ abruptly ends, for example, ‘Mahatma And The White Devil’ suddenly begins – with a flute, scratching vinyl, a black vocal and smooth-as-you-like drum pattern. This then also ends abruptly and the cool-as-a-cucumber track ‘His Name B’ begins. The album flows like this pretty much throughout, it certainly makes for an interesting listen.
‘Bright Moments’ sounds like the blissed-out musings of a late night basement session. ‘MyBrainBleedsLoveB’ could well have been recorded at the same session. The guitar on both tracks is a neat little riff repeated over sparse percussion and overdubs. It’s the kind of music which you hear wandering around places such as Affleck’s Palace in Manchester or Camden Lock in London. Or the dance tent at Glastonbury at 4am. It’s simply so chilled, so laid-back, that it’s hard to believe that Mahatma X were vertical when recording this album. If somebody were to tell me that the band was stoned while making the record and passed out immediately afterwards, I’d believe them.
‘Bitches Blue’ (a nice play on words!) has a deep, deep bass reminiscent of so many dub recordings which, when played underneath the layers of vocals, gives it a real edge. ‘Worddagawd’ has a similar vibe – I’d actually love to hear a longer version of this track remixed for the dance floor, I’m pretty certain it would go down a storm round the clubs of Leeds & Manchester.
Weirdly, closing your eyes when listening to this album feels like a tour around the darker parts of America. I’ve rarely heard music like this which doesn’t come from the States. Imagine a city late at night where smoke rises through the grids and some fellas are gathered in a small basement jazz club and none of them have played together before. I’m pretty sure that this album would represent a faithful document of that night. ‘Mad Poetik’ couldn’t have originated from any other way, it’s so random – particularly the percussion. The ‘vocals’ actually sound like a fight kicking off in a back room, and you can’t get any more random than that.
The most weird thing about this album for me is the sleeve artwork. Seeing the caricature of the guy with the long beard, somehow initially I was expecting an Irish jig – or perhaps something along the lines of Jethro Tull. Needless to say, that’s not what this album is about – it couldn’t be any further from that if it tried, but that’s really not a bad thing now is it?
~A Mobtown Suite Vol. 1 is released in early February on limited-edition vinyl in an edition of 300 copies. The first 100 copies are yellow.~