Stromba’s debut album for Fat Cat came out earlier in the year but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I heard it – and that was largely by coincidence. It is such a corker of an album that its the current feature CD in the Cyclic Music Club, our subscription CD service.
I was meeting with DC Recordings in London and their manager, James Dyer, happens to be half of Stromba. He handed me a copy of his album along with a the latest on DC and over the following few days it was on high rotation. Stromba is a duo comprising James and the DC-signed Tom Tyler who has released three sterling albums for DC, much in the vein of Cinematic Orchestra.
But the Stromba album is even better than Tyler’s solo work. A rich mix of dub, jazz and exotica it is one of the best downtempo albums of the last few years with enough edges and quirks to keep it out of the trough of coffee shop mood muzak. Combining stacks of live instruments with samples, (Max Brennan is amongst the live players) it moves through a range of moods opening with Camel Spit, a lovely piece of ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’ middle-eastern-sploitation which returns later in a more ambient sound in the album on Swamp Donkey, one of the other standouts on the album. In between there are tasty dub workouts Tickle Me Dub, Septic Skank and the appropriately percussive Percolator. The only ill fitting track is the upbeat and dancelfoor friendly Giddy Up which is full of perky horns over a live afro dub house rhythm a little reminiscent of early Pagan Records/Terry Francis.
Audio samples are available at the Inertia audio player.