things that go bump in the dark is the new full-length release by Cincinnati’s iswhat?!, a hip-hop band that has toured the US and Europe and performed with major jazz artists, among them Archie Shepp, Oliver Lake and Hamid Drake. It’s a fine record, and I’m happy to report that, along with being available as a CD or a download, this full-length release had come out on vinyl. Locally the CD and LP are available at Shake-It and Everybody’s; online you can buy it on cdbaby and iTunes.
If you’ve caught ishwat?!, chances are you’ve seen Napoleon Solo Vox fronting a trio. On things that go bump in the dark band members change and band sizes fluctuate with each song, and others artists share some of the vocal duties. My sense is that Napoleon is still the mastermind behind the music, but, like Kip Hanrahan, he constantly shuffles musicians in order to make the words and music come to life.
More than half the cuts feature Hamid Drake, who happens to be one of the best drummers in the world. He’s also one of the most versatile, and he’s as comfortable laying down a hip-hop groove as he is playing avant-garde jazz with Ken Vandermark or Peter Brotzmann.
Also noteworthy are the contributions from core ishwat?! member Jack Walker, whose saxophone and flute playing add color, texture and a jazzier vibe to the proceedings. His contributions sound all the sweeter against Napoleon’s consistently provocative wordplay.
This is music that gets inside you. At times it seems like a stream-of-consciousness collage that ties together seemingly random thoughts and melodies like the ones that go through your head during the day. Maybe they’re not so random at all; maybe they can tell you something.
If you gravitate toward colorful music, a nice groove and lyrics with depth, check out things that go bump in the dark. Along with making interesting music, Napoleon has helped bring some superb (and very unlikely) concerts to town; good to know the muses are being kind to him. Here’s some ishwat?! concert footage that quotes from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir:”