Mahjongg grinds the gamut with god Kontpab.
These folks are mixed up
By John Esther
A courageously cantankerous combination of Pere Ubu, Black Uhuru, the Grateful Dead, Brian Eno’s ambient period, Underworld and several other audio artists, Kontpab, the second release from Missouri-cum-Chicago underground sounding band Mahjongg barely sounds still long enough for the listener to get into a specific musical mode.
Once you think Mahjongg are going industrial/reggae a la Meat Beat Manifesto with their opening track “Pontiac,” the quintet name switches gears with the sophomoric Cabaret Voltairean “Problems” (is that why it is song #2) as they thrust and parry on with what they like to call their “irratainment’ beats with tracks like the blasé “Kottbummer Tort,” the self-aggrandizing sarcastic “Tell the Police the Truth,” the cagey “Those Birds are Bats,” the experimentally flawed “Wipe Out,” the sad “Teardrops,” the idiomatically inbred “Mercury” and the epical finale “Rise Rise.”
All in the name of their god, Kontpab, this Chicago Kontpab sect seeks to assist the hoi polloi to resist “The Grid and [move] into The Sphere.”
Considering Mahjongg use mathematical polyrhythmic formulations (something Wire and their followers have Dugga! Dugga! Dugga! Drill-ed-ucation on over for years) to create their cacophony creations, Kontpab, unlike most Western deities, seems very science-friendly. Along those notes, since Mahjongg wants to get so positive/positivist/pacifist about their art, they should realize that superstition, spirituality, science and the sphere (“the circle is dead” was a mantra by the anti-Cartesian modernists of the late postmodern 1960s) are historically reactionary forms that have hardly helped the mass populace out of their gri(n)d.