Published Nov 23, 2010One of the cornerstones of Cobblestone Jazz steps out with his first full-length release. Mexican Hotbox will not disappoint fans of the left coast, jazzy house ensemble ― this Hotbox is distinct from, but not a complete reinvention of, what CJ do best. The most notable differences would be where Cobblestone Jazz's last CD tended to ply more straightforward grooves, this one is compositionally intricate and rhythmically distorted, occasionally too much so. Clipped, house-y rhythm sounds make up about 70 percent of the drum vocabulary, but the tempos vary wildly and grooves are constantly morphing inside of numbers. The title track alone is a supremely entertaining journey, the kind that Underworld used to pull off with élan. Starting with an almost dub-like throb to the syncopated kick drums, Tate gradually throttles up to leaner house beats and uplifting pads before crashing into an unexpected bossa nova guitar pattern around minute five. The frantic bossa jazz of "OK Then" continues the Braziliance while easing off the vocoder sounds. By contrast, others songs are underdeveloped, like the Senor Coconutty "Populatio." But interludes like "Shootingblanks" reaffirm the agreeable soul jazz elements that permeate the disc. Despite a few stumbles, this is a very solid release.
What's the creative process like in Cobblestone Jazz and how did you want to work differently on your music?
Usually I record a whole bunch of different ideas, like 128 different things. From there I take the notes and start randomly putting them over other ideas. It wasn't like a multi-track thing where you record one thing and you record overtop of it. Everything was recorded on their own and then mashed together. I thought that might bring results that I wouldn't expect.
Do you feel this is more of a listening album or dancing?
I hope it gets into some people's boxes. It works good in the clubs, and that's what it was intended for, but [it works in] lounges too.
How would you perform this live?
I'm building this thing called a Hotel. It's just a case that you can take on an airplane, but you can open it up and it has 808s and things that you can circuit bend. You can chunk it all together and play it with a patch bay, just jamming in cords and pushing buttons with no mixer. It also has these limitations: as soon as you put these limitations [in the technology], it means you're freer to create. (Wagon Repair)