It’s just one of those inevitable phenomenons; after a while of appreciation and re-release frenzy of Moondogs catalog up pops a tribute band. Certainly not one that would litter your visual horizons with purloined imagery and a trite name that is an unavoidable part of the music landscape but rather this is a subtle musically literate jazz/intellectual reworking of the material by the Italian group ‘Hobocombo’. Covers of Moondog’s work is an obscurist pursuit as works by the blind American poet, inventor of musical instruments and composer Louis Thomas Hardin were hardly household names. Hardin as a self taught musician who developed a persona as a Viking and became known as ‘the viking of 52 street’s cut quite a bohemian figure, however the strength of his material has led to a prolonged appreciation.
This album consists of minimalist interpretations of some of ‘Moondogs’ works with an emphasis on Jazz inflections. ‘ To be a Hobo’ cuts the track to drum and percussion element with double bass and vocal round singing which gives the track a particular thrill for it’s virtuosity. ‘Birds Lament’s replicates the melody line of the track on a Korg Ms10 bringing the retro sensibility to the fore and the percussion drives the almost boogaloo sound of the track along with the ever present shaker aspects and a display of kooky percussive elements. ‘Witch of Endor’ is suitably dramatic and uses a sort of lopsided playing of the music to underscore the fraught territory, with a breakdown in the middle that makes good use of the emotive possibilities of the double bass and the menace possible in a drum kit with a well wrought wire brush. ‘Enough about Human Rights’ moves the album right back into a cool intellectual hipsters rendition of Moondogs track, with twists drawn in by deft use of Harmonicia and electric guitar wailing as if straight from the late 60’s. This track maintains the humor of Moondog while placing a restrained groove into his music and interweaving aspects of progressive rock and harmonic singing. It is quite a pleasure for lovers of Moondog and an album that negotiates the covers concept with a great degree of savvy.