I have something to confess. In the last 4 weeks, I haven't given one bad review, and disliking the *ahem* homogeneity of it all, I picked Mahjongg to review with the intention of unleashing my acid walls-of-Jericho-come-a-tumblin' wit upon these innocents. But alas, I am thwarted once again. And you know what? Thank you Sir, please may I have another!
Mahjongg are from Chicago, out on Cold Crush records, and I judged them by their name. Yes, I did. And ho! Was I wrong!
Mahjongg are wonderful genre distorters, and they are combining what is good in punk with what is good in funk. For me I'll count funk as close enough to be called a part of electronic music. I love this sort of thing happening. Electronica needs crazy frontmen, gesticulating and pelvic-thrusting the crowd, big boots tramping the stage, wild-haired energetic band members attempting to impale themselves on very blunt monitor speakers, getting the crowd to sing along. The only electronic band I've heard personally to ever do this are Underworld, who do not stand around twisting knobs, but sing their lyrics live, running around stage, doing licks on a guitar, personally getting the crowd into it. I can totally see Mahjongg doing this sort of thing. Though I must be honest and really doubt they consider themselves any sort of road sign for the Electronica scene.
If you want an idea of how wacky they sound, think of Dexy's Midnight Runners, Pulp, Sleeper, Iggy Pop, The Clash mixed with bluesy funk (which heavily influenced punk anyway), Casio-tone plinks, modern dancefloor-sounding drum breaks and techno squeals here and there. Yes. That wacky. But oh so funky good.
The first track "Jamdek" is an excellent taster of how they mix their drinks. It opens up with a simple, plinky melody of the Casio-tone persuasion, and slowly the old funk creeps in, culminating in guitar jams and an infectious chorus sung in a fashion that sounds very similar to Pulp's "Mile End," but similarity stops dead right there.
Track 3 "Aluminum" is the most formulaic punk-sounding track of the whole EP, but nods again, to ?80s and early ?90s brit-punk. But even in this song, it bridges with a Ladytron-esque sound, then sort of stumbles over itself with a sound of bottles being tripped over, before thrashing back into a very positive punk sound again.
Track 5, named "Bishop Desmond Tutu", reveals an influence from African beats and rhythms that works well with the punk sound. If anything, this is perhaps a real revelation of just how cross-cultural punk is, no matter what the white-washed media will try to sell you.
Catch these guys live. I am sure they won't disappoint! 8/10 -- Munir Remahl (25 May, 2005)