The Carolina Chocolate Drops / Luminescent Orchestrii

Carolina Chocolate Drops/Luminescent Orchestrii

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At first thought, an EP from the combined bands of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Luminescent Orchestrii seems somewhat implausible. The Chocolate Drops specialize in preserving the black Appalachian string band tradition they learned from mentor Joe Thompson, while the Orchestrii toss Gypsy music, Middle Eastern harmonies, hip-hop beats, and punk energy into a stylistic blender, and while they sound traditional at times, they aren’t. No, these two bands would seem to be working opposite ends of the field, but the good news is that it all comes together wonderfully on this intriguing release. The two groups, who had long admired each other’s music, met and informally played together in Memphis at the Alliance Folk Festival, and were soon recording together in New York, tackling versions of “Knockin’” (which originally appeared on the Lumii's Too Hot to Sleep release), Blu Cantrell's “Hit ‘Em Up Style” (from the Drops' Genuine Negro Jig album), Sam Morgan's jazz piece “Short Dress Gal,” and the rhythmic Lumii song “Escoutas (Diga Diga Diga),” all with human beatbox Adam Matta. The result is hardly some Frankenstein creation, but instead a fluid, energetic, and yes, even traditional-sounding set of gems that proves one can pull two different directions together into one without losing the strengths and passion of either.

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