Remember back when Tortoise made it “big” and suddenly everyone was incorporating vibraphones into their head-rock, to varying degrees of success?
Well, though Les Hommes make good use of the instrument, they clearly fall outside that category. Their eponymous debut is a smoky and slippery blend of classy and jazzy instrumentation with a heavy emphasis on the beat — it’s nowhere near an electronic album, yet all the tracks here move forward with an undeniable momentum that’s hard to ignore. Similarly, I’d hesitate to call it Brazilian, but the feel, the groove is there, in ways that run deeper than its occasional bossa nova beat. It’s dim-the-lights music, especially on tracks like “Pousada De Amor,” where a musique concrete background of rain and thunder melds seamlessly with the Vladimiro Carboni’s sizzling cymbal work and Tarek Abou-Chanab’s congas; in the foreground organist Rory Moore tells a musical tale of other dark and wet nights like this.
With an instrumental prowess worthy of Medeski, Martin and Wood, Les Hommes easily prove themselves here. This is a rare all purpose album, one to wind down at the end of the day with, and one that will chugalug the miles like lemonade after yardwork. One to play to your date, and one to impress your boss with.