A Morphing Murmur

I once referred to Scream Blue Murmur as my favorite group of Irish poets. This Northern Ireland collective has expanded, contracted and morphed over the past few years and their work has shifted from spoken word with some music to songs, a melange of funk, soul and jazz. Their core seems to have moved from the power of the word to the power of the sound. I’m still loving this stuff, and it’s clear to me from their latest product that the mind of its driving force, Gordon Hewitt, hasn’t stopped moving and exploring new ways to tell the stories.

The Secret Life of Gam Bambino, is a two-song grouping that’s taken their sound a little further down the path they’ve been going. The title song itself has a heavy bass, rhythm, soul-jazz, mixture. While listening to it, I was sort of reminded of The Stray Cats sound, but this is more clever and complex. Regardless of Setzer’s rep, I mean this as a compliment, as something fun, upbeat and enjoyable.

The B-side of this duo is Sonny Has Sturdy Legs.  Its prominent trumpet and sax lines make this song feel rather jazzy, but then the vocal styles lay on a kind of soul element, more reminiscent of some of their earlier works. Meanwhile the whole thing has a sort of comfortable beat that kept my foot tapping throughout.

Both songs have the feeling of being performed in a tightly packed and dimly-lit bar, and are a clear progression from earlier pieces by the group, particularly from Cassius Marcellus, which shares the layering even if with a different styling and pace.

One thing I found interesting about visiting the site was the collection’s cover image. I don’t know if anyone called Gam Bambino existed, or exactly who Sonny may be (in this case, that is) but I wanted to know more. The lyrics in both pieces, which are slight, keep the tales limited. My mind went to finding the story amongst both songs and the picture.

Which one is Sonny? Which one is Gam? Are they the same person? Or were they enemies?

And, whose head was bashed in?

This has the makings of a longer compilation of songs, and I hope to hear a full album with these pieces as a kind of base.


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