Archive for Thursday, September 23, 1999

PLAYS THAT FUNKY FUNK

September 23, 1999

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Cibo Matto held a stoned-soul picnic Tuesday night at The Granada. The New York-based band, whose sound is an original musicquarium of hip-hop beats, bottom-heavy grooves and swirling harmonies, kept an easygoing pace that seemed to go over well with the small but appreciative audience.

Vocalist Miho Hatori put on a histronic performance while keyboardist Yuka Honda coaxed a menagerie of noises from her Roland D-90, the quintessential '80s synthesizer. A drummer and a percussionist worked hard to keep the beats going strong and the crowd moving.

The band's star attraction is undoubtedly bassist Sean Lennon, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Lennon, dressed ultra-casual in jeans and a T-shirt, proved to be a capable bass player, though he's certainly no funk genius. He stood mostly still, thumbing at his instrument and singing backup in a high honey-glazed voice.

Cibo Matto (Italian for "food madness") got its start in the New York underground scene and it shows in the band's style and sound. Ambient noise, hypnotic loops and plastic-Ono madness all find their way into the group's b-boy bouillabaisse of sound and rhythm.

Superfly break-beats mix with ultra-lounge swank and three-way Sergeant Pepper harmonies. Hints of the B-52s, Luscious Jackson and Shonen Kinfe also inform the band's sonic musicscapes, creating a sound that is as compelling and complex as it is musical. The band doesn't play songs, per se. Instead the focus is on head-bobbing grooves and quirky choruses.

Cibo Matto won't find mainstream success anytime soon and that's probably fine with them. The band's knack for funny funk and strange noises puts it in a category all its own. The group proved itself worthy at The Granada and will undoubtedly continue to draw local crowds when they come to town.

-- Geoff Harkness is the music writer for the Journal-World.

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