Brighton folk rockers in moral panic? The debut long-player from south-coast jazz-surrealists DR. BOKARMA is an experimental waltz through the genre-blending ins and outs of English folk/6T’s psychedelia.
The sound of beatnik haunts and candlelit cellar clubs if ever I heard it, the shambolic feel of the final mixes make these songs sound like recorded versions of what must be an impressive live act.
Odd percussion and the sound of brushes hitting the drums draws you into the rise and fall of singer Mark’s odd baritone. Sounding fragile and improvised, ‘Real Ride’ gradually intensifies into a beat-driven trance to leave you breathless out of nowhere, closely followed by the smoochier, steamier ‘Dancing Closer’ as it does the tango out of the cabinets.
The jazz guitar stylo reverberates from deep within, as the band crank up the tongue-in-cheek by gently hamming it up during the delicate ‘Rats and Ladies’. Saxophonist Robin weaves his multilayered spell with strangely gorgeous acoustics as the mewing vocals yowl and purr along, but despite the séance-style interventions of Vera Lynn the lounging jazz sound predominates most during tracks like ‘Hot Weather’, betraying the primary influences of stick-tapping, finger snapping mellow cool that glow from within.
The shuffling appeal of ‘Open Mind’ showcases the folkier side of the band’s English eccentric sound
whilst the railroad blues of ‘Perfect Man’ exudes downbeat charm.
The band are not averse to prog structures, and the half-rock of ‘Film Crew’ comes embedded in a surreal and oddly pitched tale of media madness, the details blurred by sleazy sax and off-key guitars.
Though the record moves gradually away from the sun-drenched melodies that get it off to a flier, the rootsy direction that the record takes is equally engaging. The results are absorbing and quirk-laden and the record is structurally accomplished if not instantly appealing. Having said that, the title would suggest that this is but the beginning of DrBoKarma’s musical oddyssey.