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Moon Hooch's 'Cave Music,' As Funky As It Is Unlikely

Moon Hooch's new album is called <em>This Is Cave Music</em>.
Shervin Lainez
Courtesy of the artist
Moon Hooch's new album is called This Is Cave Music.

The trio Moon Hooch got its start on the subway platforms of Brooklyn, playing for loose change and attracting attention for something they call "cave music." Listen casually and you might hear it as a fusion of jazz and funk — but on closer inspection, there is a far more daring synthesis going on.

"It's like house music, but it's more jagged, wild, more free, more natural to live in," drummer James Muschler says. Indeed, on the new album This Is Cave Music, Muschler and reed players Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen have found a way to reproduce the most extreme sounds of electronic dance music — but they do it with acoustic instruments, the kinds you'd expect to find in a big orchestra. Take, for example, the song "Contra Dubstep."

"The most notably dubstep element of that song is Wenzl's contra-bass clarinet, which is the lowest clarinet of the clarinet family — it gets all the way down to the low C on the piano," Muschler says. "With a contact mic on the reed going through the subwoofer, it really emulates the sound of dubstep music."

On his own instrument, Muschler takes his cues from a different source: Indian classical music. As he explained to NPR's Arun Rath, he devises many of his beats on Indian tablas first, then sets about a meticulous process of translating them for a standard drum kit. Hear the conversation, and the music, at the audio link.

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