State of Monc’s Clipperton Extended release might be a lot of things to a lot of people and I just might be one of those people. A lot is happening here from a melody and tone standpoint on this two-CD set. Generally, it’s a bright explorative album with snap, crackle and pop (mainly showing that snap on Disc Two). Lots of obvious skill burst through radiance and purpose. This is the group’s third release and, unless you’re savvy enough to already be on board with them and make a habit of ordering rather obscure imports, this Dutch ensemble may have escaped the scope of your radar.
While the opening track sort of creeps up on you in a weird rather lackadaisical way, it picks up quickly and has a way of holding you captive in anticipation of what you hope will follow. Lots of power, rhythm and sensation are what follow. To dub this as "dance jazz" or acid jazz wouldn’t be far off the mark, barring a few tunes. There’s even a bit of genuine funkiness to some of the music. The one thing I’ve come to discover is that the power of funk does have a way of travelling across defined but porous boundaries and walls, doesn’t it?
There’s a lot to admire here. Tunes like the very melodic "Big" and "Field X" are smooth, alluring, and well-conceived. There are carefully defined, thick bass lines, bright and cool horns, and thunderous and supportive backbeats. As I briefly alluded to above, there are a few cuts that I wouldn’t consider as dance tunes, however, like "Above Ground," which takes one down quite a different path with its tinkering with chords and trumpet runs. The melody leaves a bit to be desired and is unfortunately a bit bland for me. "Mindbeamer," a tune that focuses more on the intricacies of rhythm and scale work is another example of the non-dance numbers. However, it’s still quite the impressive piece. The dance theme returns with fervor on "Soyuz One," a bottom-heavy and very high-powered tune featuring very effective horn work. The rhythm slips a bit again with the short tune "Date Line" and the scaly, more traditional yet contemporary "The Hitman."
Disc Two, the better of the two discs in my opinion, is mostly, with the exception of one untitled tune, a clever collection of interesting remixes of the tunes on Disc One, mostly rap. Maybe this floats your boat, maybe not. A bit harsh in spots but still quite rhythmic. I do especially like what they did with the remix for "Date Line," a tune I didn’t particularly like on Disc One but one that is not only remixed but entirely revamped on Disc Two. Just my flavor, as is the remix of "Soyuz One," where the funk runs strongly and rampantly and alongside the dance vibe. Give the drummer big props here! This is DANCE JAZZ in all caps. The finale is a mighty and funky remix of the title track. Really sizzling stuff.
State of Monc is obviously in touch, for the most part, with jazz as it exists today, especially here in the States. They’re really worth the listen more than once.