Clearly percussion started it all. I once asked British keyboard whiz Dave Stewart (formerly of Egg, the first Bill Bruford quartet and National Health) what he thought the first music was, and he said, "Probably a lot of banging and shouting." There's no shouting here on MY BONGO, and not too much banging either; Holmes and Dutz essay a truckload of devices and much of it is subtle and tonal and colorful. The sheer amount of percussives used, to say nothing of the library of sounds you'll hear, is overwhelming.
What there isn't is a lot of melodic forward motion. Wild rhythm patterns, yes. Never a dull moment, minute to minute, yes. But repeated listenings kept bringing to me a sense of a dearth of 'tuneful material.' Now and again when they pull out the marimba I got the feeling that something's about to coalesce, but no. "We Like Gongs" has that whirr and splash we expect (especially if you check it out on headphones), and "Tribute to Elvin" (a much-missed scion of the drums, as we all know) features highly literate cymbal work. In fact, every track here has something to recommend it. Just not enough to hold the CD together. My conclusion: if you don't mind something you can turn to medium volume and just let it rain down on your skull while you're doing something else, go to it. But for my own part, I need a different emphasis.
by Kenneth Egbert
New Sounds - October 2004
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