M'lumbo The Nine Billion Names of God

This is the ninth album in 14 years by this constantly changing NYC mixed media troupe of filmmakers, musicians and downtown scenesters. Like the other artists in their circle (Neotropic, Badawi and ex-Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas), they seem uncomfortable leaving any measure of music untouched. Most tracks on this recording begin with a metamorphic bedrock of '70s funk/free jazz buried in layers of found sound, scraps of speech from innumerable sources, cheap machine rhythms, light rock leitmotifs and on and on. Enough of a musical theme rises to the surface to propel it forward, but conservative listeners may feel adrift with a scant framework to hang on to. The experience works best when it fades into the perceptual background; it turns an empty room into a virtual audio tour of crowded streets, walking through conversations, time zones, ethnic locales and musical venues. However, too much concentration on individual elements crystallises things into an annoying cacophony, so beware. (Multimood)