It’s the first of the month, which means, among other things, the automated mailbots of many email lists send out little reminders that you once upon a time submitted your email address to their discretionary use — such as the one from johnnyvidacovich.com, website of the great, lanky, Zen-focused New Orleans drummer. Email arrived this morning from another New Orleans act, the group Chef Menteur, named for a highway that leads east out of New Orleans. The email wasn’t automated; it brought welcome news that the band’s members were far from New Orleans themselves, beyond the reach of Hurricane Katrina, dispersed across the country.
I first saw Chef Menteur play when it was a duo, Jim Yonkus and Alec Vance, two gear-enabled noodlers making psychedelic noise. Chef Menteur has since expanded, and its first proper album, We Await Silent Tristero’s Empire, arrived earlier this year on the Backporch Revolution label. Now a quintet, including Bryan Killingsworth, Chris Sule and Mike Mayfield, they still make studio-enabled psychedelia, but its richer, thicker and more self-assured, as evidenced for the downloading public by four full MP3s on the band’s website, chefmenteur.org. There’s Fourth World folk music, laced with sitar, on “Paysans de la Mer” (MP3), and a slowly grooving retro-campy vamp, “Pointu” (MP3), that suggests the ghost of Ernie K-Doe was nearby during its recording. The longest of the batch, “Europa” (MP3), escalates suddenly toward its end, capping the extended opaque ambience with voluminous dissonance, before a final fade. Perhaps the best track, “W.A.S.T.E.” (MP3), maintains a slow, lo-fi beat and affixes to it all manner of sampled and performed material, hand claps, plucking, field recordings, yelps and more. Additional info at backporchrevolution.com. … And now go visit the Red Cross, and help clean up after Katrina: redcross.org.