In 1997, producer Scott Harding helped sculpt the: ”Sexmob sound” with his innovative work on Din Of Inequity. Almost 25 years later Harding and the band have reunited, in a new collaborative framework resulting in The Hard Way, an album that skews decisively electronic, forthcoming in 2022. Wollesen plays both acoustic and electric drums as the band delves deep into Harding’s electronic beats and soundscapes, reinventing them in the process. Pianist/composer and MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer guests on “You Can Take a Myth,” sprinkling stark sustained treble tones and abstract harmonies on top of fat processed bass from Scherr as the composition unfolds. John Medeski underlays organ chords and blues phraseology to perfection on “Banacek” and works atmospheric magic with mellotron, counterposing Harding’s evocative balafon samples, on “Club Pythagorean.”
In every methodological context, the Sexmob aesthetic remains uninhibited and true. For Thirsty Ear’s innovative Blue Series in 2006, the band recorded the GRAMMY-nominated Sexotica, a reimagining of Martin Denny’s Exotica genre with extensive post-production work by Danny Blume and Chris Castagno (the studio team known as GoodandEvil). Also on Thirsty Ear is Sex Mob Meets Medeski: Live in Willisau 2006, featuring the organ master in an expansive romp through beloved Sexmob repertoire. In 2013 the core Sexmob quartet returned once again to the movies with Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti (Sexmob Plays Fellini: The Music of Nino Rota), and in 2017 they issued Cultural Capital, the first Sexmob release consisting entirely of Bernstein originals. “Like the best movies,” said KNKX’s Abe Beeson of Cultural Capital, “there’s humor, intrigue, confusion, sorrow, passion, and the always present loose groove.”
With each offering, and certainly with The Hard Way and its rich electro-acoustic groove canvas, Bernstein and crew evince a modernizing impulse but also an equally strong foundation in the roots of jazz and American song. Their immersion in a wide range of contemporary music is consistent with Bernstein’s own chameleonic experience alongside Lou Reed, Levon Helm, Hal Willner, Sam Rivers, Bernie Worrell, Henry Butler, U2, Little Feat and a host of other legends. Funky, bluesy, with a tattered dissonance conjured up by Krauss’ throaty saxophone tone and marked by the distinctive wail of Bernstein’s rare horn, Sexmob continues to chart new paths in 21st-century creative music.