Dream On It
Mutual Kumquat

by Jason Hoffman Dream On It

The seven amiable blokes (plus one affable blokette) of Mutual Kumquat spent four long days recording Dream On It, their debut album. Monastic Chambers studio guru Jon Gillespie spent the next few days mixing the tracks and, huzzah!, an incredibly energetic premier record springs forth where 78 hours before there was nothing.

This same frenzied, youthful pace characterizes their music. Stylistically they draw upon an exhausting number of influences, but what holds the album together is a general African vibe (think Paul Simon’s Graceland). While at times it’s just the lyrical rhythm or unusual (to American ears) vocal harmonies, this dark-continental flavor pervades most of the songs.

Dream On It is actually a number of different albums squashed into one, a big “naughty no-no” in the current musical world, where everything must be categorized in order to be properly marketing to the correct niche group. Well, the niche group for Mutual Kumquat are those who find nothing wrong with starting an album with an instrumental composed of various ethnic percussion instruments before jumping into an a cappella intro of thick African vocal harmonies. “Keepinyaluv” is a good mixture of pop and world, as is the Jamaican “Lime Juice” that incorporates sax and a charge of jazz fusion halfway through, ending the song in a manic pace. Five more of the 21 songs also dig deeply into African soil, notably the soulful “Talking To You,” the Jamaican piano-led rap of “The Break of Dawn” and the jumbling war protest song “Baghdad Morning.”

The other half of the album reveals many influences. There’s the freewheeling jam band (“Higher Ground,” “Summer Dreaming,” “Hyper People”, and “My Love for You”), 60s folk/James Taylor (“Simple Things”), radio-friendly pop ballads (“Sweet Love,” “Barefoot & Unfed” and “Elephant Shoes”), Ben Folds Five (“Riding” and “Goodnight Meg”) and unadorned piano ballad (“Untitled”). It’s a lot of ground to cover and they do it all surprisingly well!

At well over 70 minutes Dream On It flies by, thanks to Mutual Kumquat’s infectious fun-loving spirit that permeates each track. You can hear the thickly bearded (except the aforementioned blokette) musical companions having a blast recording their songs, making it easy for the listener to likewise get caught up in the party.

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