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Album Reviews, Music

Album Review: Tippy Agogo and Bill Bourne Keep Listeners Guessing With “Amoeba Collective”

By: Michael Thomas –

Amoeba Collective is the result of a collaboration between the mysterious Tippy Agogo (who has released four albums between 1988 and the present) and Juno Award-winning Bill Bourne and it can only be called a fusion album amped up to 11.

Accompanied by Madagascar Slim on guitar and Michelle Josef on drums, this album takes the term “genre fusion,” which applies to two genres not previously associated with each other, and flips it on its head when it effectively blurs the lines between many genres and it’s often difficult to categorize. There’s a prevalence of what can loosely be called “world beat,” but there’s also elements of blues, country, rock and even hip hop.

But even naming those influences doesn’t even begin to describe this album. Opener “Yo Mojo” should be more than enough to get a feel for this album’s weirdness. The track’s offbeat drumming, screeching vocals and an intiruging mix of funk and reggae pave the way for the album’s eccentric style.

To get a feel for the world beats that Agogo and Bourne create, look no further than “Marketplace,” which effectively uses a call and response a song and is just as bustling and vibrant as a marketplace on a busy day.

A bluesy highlight of the album is for sure “Black Banks,” which manages to have a hell of a lot of soul. “Old Crow” does well to combine the closely-related blues and country genres. The song even features a pretty lengthy harmonica solo which allows the track’s influences to ring clearly.

More rock-heavy tracks are “Tin Metal” and “Scarecrow Murders.” The latter has a very spooky vibe thanks to the background moans. The former is the longest track and is basically a mini rock opus.

There are even two songs without any real lyrics, “Oh How Beautiful” and “Ascending/Descending.” The former features lots of vocalizing over multiple guitar lines and ends with a rather ominous sound. The latter emphasises the album’s world influences and often comes across like a vocal warmup exercise, but with a vocal direct rhythm.

Amoeba Collective defies categorization and its wide array of sounds will keep you guessing each time. The album is available from Busted Flat Records.

Essential Tracks: “Marketplace” and “Ascending/Descending.”

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