Hess Is More

Creation Keeps the Devil Away

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Jazz drummer Mikkel Hess works in a variety of styles, and while his music is ultimately club-friendly and rhythm-heavy, as befits a musician with a degree in percussion, it's also remarkably calm. His style is a jumble of folk, electronica, jazz, rock, pop, disco, house, and world music with lyrics that will tweak your brain with their literary bent even as his beats invite you to move, albeit without breaking a sweat. His progressive music is fun, but with a mature, adult edge that's a pleasing contrast to the adolescent concerns of most rock & rollers. Hess has a laid-back tenor that brings to mind Michael Franks, and he puts it to good use on these quirky dance tracks. "Burn" is a jittery disco number that remains sedate despite its inflammatory title, as Hess sings "You can burn burn burn our house down…as long as you let me know in time to get my stuff out." "Wonder Who You're Singing For" is a bit more frenetic, with a pounding bass pulse and funky, percussion-heavy rhythm track that bemoans the premature end of a relationship, although Hess still sings with an air that's more bemused than angry. There's a slight Middle Eastern feel to the oud-like guitar fills on "Going Looking for the End of the World," another tale of romance gone wrong delivered with a jaunty insouciance intensified by Hess' carefree whistling. From its title you'd expect "Go Go Go Go" to be a mindless dance tune, but it sounds like something Leonard Cohen might write after a transformative night at a disco, a simple melancholy lyric delivered over a propulsive beat that instantly insinuates itself into your brain. The title track is another bubbly disco groove with short bursts of pizzicato strings accenting the rhythm. The whispered lyric is the repeated mantra "Creation keeps the Devil away," and it becomes hypnotic rather than monotonous in short order.

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