Mundi: In the Blink of an Eye (Monkey)

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Mundi: Berimbau
Mundi: In the Blink of an Eye (Monkey)

Every now and again New Zealand throws up a group which has a jazz/improv aspect but looks to diverse world music for influences. Elsewhere has posted albums by Superbrew from the Eighties and, from the past decade, releases by the Mamaku Project.

The prog art-rock band An Emerald City also incorporate elements from Middle Eastern-and-beyond musics as well.

Mundi -- fronted by flute player Tamara Smith who writes their music -- has enjoyed a longer life than many: they were founded in 2003, hit the festival circuit, went to Sri Lanka where they played with local musicians and recorded some material for their debut album Serendipity, received consitently good reviews from around their home-base of Christchurch . . . and in late 2010 were literally shaken by the big quake that hit the city.

Out of that experience Smith realised what can happen "in the blink of an eye" which gives the title to this wide-reaching 11 track album (all recorded before the big shake-up) and which features vocalist Roslen Langton in a couple of places -- but is mostly a jazz jaunt around the globe stoppng off in India, parts of Africa and taking in a little Cuban music for good measure.

Berimbau is the first real attention-getter with its quietly urgent marimba, off-beat accents and gently probing flute and saxophone parts. It shifts from suggestions of West Africa to the Mediterranean with casual ease. The sprightly 10-minute The Travelling Song finds them really stretching as the music morphs through various rhythms and styles with juju guitar as the underpinning.

Their many diverse influences are melded into bright, sometimes a little light, jazzy world music which will keep you guessing as to where it might go next.

The seven-piece band let the sounds ebb and flow, nothing sounds forced or even artificial, and although you might wish for a little more fire from the belly (especially on Breath of the Amazon which edges close to Afrobeat in places) this serves very well as another calling card from a band that sounds entirely at home in whichever part of the planet inspires it.

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