(Mellon Melt Records)
Smart and savvy with a belly full of grunge, Chicago’s Las Toallitas mix up a potent combination of world class jazz and world beat funk on their powerful new release. Tablas and turntables run amok while samples and saxophones butt up against each other in a divine amalgamation of talent and terror. With the dreamy vibes of Doug Brush floating over a soup of down-and-dirty scratch and riff rhythms, Las Toallitas’ unique musical laboratory keeps the heat up on a bubbling brew of street smart chaos. Searching for offbeat beats and deep seated samples, this six-piece outfit has found some strange musical bedfellows. Witness the gypsy jig of Max Callahan’s violin on the twisted “India Reel,” or the klezmer cabaret of Kristin McGee’s alto sax on the lively “Encuentro.” Add to a that a stomping montage of Arabian Rastafarian hip hop vocals, and you’re swimming in mutant music that slithers and skitters past Sun Ra by way of Captain Beefheart. While much of the disc kicks and bites in a deliciously twisted frenzy, the mood often softens, as on the slow-burning “Stone Marrow,” and the nine-minute journey “Long Time.” Controlled yet unpredictable, Las Toallitas rumble and uproot Casbah clichés and lounge lizard wizardry, combining grit and guts with gangly grooves that cut the rug with a run of solid moves.