[19 September 2011]
Much of what passes for world music these days could be considered muzak. An uninspired wash of sound drowning in sameness. Gojogo attempts a counterbalance to mediocrity by melding world influences into a unique breed of West meets East. It is a noble attempt, and fans of the world music genre may be surprised by this musical experiment that stays accessible.
This third full-length album from the Bay Area quartet is unique in instrumentation and contains strong melodic lines with subtle harmonic surprises. The first track, “Tale of Tales”, provides a good example of this, evolving into jazz-influenced guitar riffing that dances around the violin line. It is the jazz elements that shine the brightest on 28,000 Days. Other highlights include Gojogo’s haunting interpretation of the Rogers and Hammerstein song “Bali Hai”. The mood of this track suggests that it may be a good idea for Gojogo to collaborate with Zach Condon (of Beirut) just to see what happens.
Great musical ideas abound on 28,000 Days (check out the gorgeous breakdown at the four-minute mark of the title track), but not enough to sustain the whole album. Many melodic lines simply are not as compelling as those just mentioned, and the repetition doesn’t always build toward satisfying tension. The piano line in “God Doesn’t Make Junk” is a good example of this wandering. Nevertheless, these are fabulous players who deserve to have an audience, and, given the virtues of this recording, I sense the Gojogo’s sound is something that may be even more dynamic when it’s experienced live.