If you started blasting the middle of a track from Moon Hooch’s new sophomore album This is Cave Music in a room of unknowing individuals, few would probably realize that they were listening to a live trio. One of the most unique bands in the scene out there, this unbelievable mix of two saxophones and a drummer have taken their music yet another step beyond the average with this addition to their discography.
While they’ve always been something of a dance-jazz fusion band, This is Cave Music sees the members exploring the potential of their instruments more than ever before, using effects as well as the classic traffic-cone-in-the-sax trick to achieve truly ethereal soundscapes.
Immediately upon hearing the first track, “No. 6,” I understand what is meant by the term “cave music.” It starts out with a simplistic driving sax duo over a pumping dance beat that has always acted as the band’s house-influenced foundation. However, it quickly winds its way up a jazzy interlude into a bass-heavy blast where one sax starts literally just melodically screaming. In short, it is reminiscent of what I imagine it would’ve been like to be in a crew of Neanderthals raging wildly and ritualistically around a giant cave fire.
Other songs like “Mountain Song” and “Rainy Day” see the band going in a direction somewhat new, partially due to the addition of lyrics. With the vocals layered over minimalistic deep sax lines, these songs almost take on more of an electro-pop sound than dance-jazz fusion.
However, what stands out most about this album in terms of what it shows about the band’s evolution is that they are stepping out of the minimalist box they started in. Rather than the barebones mixture of bass and lead saxophone over a basic drum kit, here we see layers. We hear synthesizers, the addition of electronic percussion, and other post-production elements that fill the spaces between the three instruments and allow the band to achieve a sound far more influenced by deep trance than ever before.
Tracks like “St. Louis,” “Why Not,” and “Contra Dubstep” demonstrate this refined EDM influence. Moon Hooch was always extremely dance-driven, but now I would never be surprised to find them in a rave warehouse or dance club. That said, this is a killer album that begs you to get off your feet and act like an animal, and I would take that over a DJ at the club any and every day of the week.