Tomás Doncker Band: Moanin’ At Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project

by thethreepennyguignol

“A “hardcore” modern Blues record.”.

That’s how Tomas Doncker, soul legend, came up with the seeds of his newest album. Something about that statement is both ridiculous and kind of exciting, a way for Doncker to deservedly insert himself into a long and fascinating musical history. In fact, ridiculous and exciting pretty much sum up Tomas Doncker to a tee- his “global soul” mission, the fact his new album is a salute to his heroes the Howlin’ Wolves, and the fact that it’s already been picked up to be turned into a multimedia concert performance affair of some description. He might be out there, but what’s the album like?

The standout on the album, for me, at least, was the opener, Evil: that’s equally silky smooth and full of pleasingly spiky edges that stop the track vanishing into your memory as soon as it’s over. Evil takes it’s time building, bringing everything together in a wall-of-sound guitar solo that complements the rich organ and scrappy bass perfectly. This is music that’s been thought about, that’s been considered, and it shows.

There’s a smoky-bar feel to Moanin’ at Midnight, a richly atmospheric number that is probably the best showcase for Docker’s crunchy-caramel vocals (trust me, that analogy makes no sense up until the point you hear him sing. Smooth, salty, with a bit of bite). The pace picks up a bit with I Ain’t Superstitious, a brisk, sparsely orchestrated number that lays the focus on the pop in the pace and the hypnotic call-and-response mix of vocals and saxaphone. There’s a lot of old-school blues on here, and that’s more than welcome, only because it’s done so damn well. It’s impossible not to find yourself swept up in the brazen attitude and years of history that have been drawn on to create this pretty magnificent mesh of old and new.

Ah, I hear you cry: But where precisely is the new? Well, it’s in the glitchy repetition and fishbowl vocals of Smokestack Lightning, in the deliberately muted, movie-tone sax at the start of Missed the Train, and it’s in the amazing dubmix of Moanin’ at Midnight. This is actually the album closer, and lays down the final punch with style. It’s not frantic, not hysterical, but rather just mashes together a gorgeous blend of subdued synth and finger-tapping rhythm.

Really, Moanin’ at Midnight is about the crisp, confident blend of both the past and present of the blues world by a man who knows both so well. This is music to smoke those fancy new e-cigs to, and I mean that in the best possible way.

 

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