Darcy James Argue's Secret Society Brooklyn Babylon

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society Brooklyn Babylon
7
Darcy James Argue made one of the more noteworthy big band records of the last decade with his debut, Infernal Machines (2009). Moving beyond the early "steampunk jazz" tag foisted upon his music, he's taken on the vast panorama of Brooklyn, NY-based music (LCD Soundsystem, Missy Mazzoli and Dirty Projectors are all name-checked on the album's one-sheet) and bent it to his will. The narrative behind the project involves building a Tower of Babel-like structure in Brooklyn, which gives him license to mash-up genres like they've never been mashed before. The disc starts with a brassy, noir Balkan figure in waltz time — these elements turn out to be unifying forces in this story. Things get Reich-ian all of the sudden, but never betray their jazz affiliation — this music never stops swinging even in its highest concept moments. "The Neighbourhood" contains an almost disco-like pulse, akin to a less showy Maynard Ferguson band, while "Missing Parts" is the best-realized piece, featuring a drum machine, darbouka, David Amram ethno flutes and popping electric bass. Brooklyn Babylon is relentless and not without its flat-footed moments, most of which have to do with the sub-par guitar melodrama. Still, things never stay in a rut for long. While this may not be a perfect record, you'd be a fool to pass up an opportunity to see this thrilling band if you have the chance. (New Amsterdam)