BIG MEAN SOUND MACHINE:
Big Mean Sound Machine formed in 2009 in Ithaca, New York with one goal: to create music that stimulates both Body AND Mind. Today, BMSM’s collective of over 15 analog artists spread out over the East Coast United States bring together musical languages of West Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and North America to create a lush bed of rhythm and harmony that embraces even the most hardcore fans of both Traditional Funk and Avant-Garde Jazz – and everyone in between! Anyone who has witnessed Big MeanSound Machine live knows that their performances are among the heaviest and the sweatiest. Those familiar with BMSM studio releases also knows that they can refine the complex sonic force of over a dozen individuals with maturity and clarity that allows each composition to blossom to its fullest. The Big Mean Sound Machine maintains a busy performance schedule, captivating cities all over the United States. For those like us who are tired of the status quo, there is good news: THE BIG MEAN SOUND MACHINE HAS OFFICIALLY ARRIVED.
With the release of their 3rd full-length studio effort, “CONTRABAND,” Big Mean Sound Machine adds more critical acclaim to that garnered from the release of “Marauders” (2012) and “Ouroboros” (2011). Recorded live in two sessions in 19thCentury churches – including Grammy Winning studio Electric Wilburland, which also served as the setting for BigMean’s 2012 DVD, “Dr. Iguana: Live in the Studio” – Contraband pushes the band even further into uncharted territory. Working with outside engineers Matthew Sacuccimorano (Johnny Dowd, Jennie Lowe Sterns, Black Castle) and Grammy-winner Robert Hunter (Branford Marsalis, Raven) also provided a unique dynamic. Hunter’s mastery over analog technology, specifically the 1970’s-era Triton console (originally built for Elvis Costello, and frequently used by legendary Zydeco outfit Donna The Buffalo) and the 2” reel-to-reel tapemachine it feeds, brings a whole new human dimension to the sound- especially on vinyl.
In addition to studio efforts released under the name Big Mean Sound Machine, 2013 saw BMSM collaborating with Ghanaian vocalist Yao Foli “Cha Cha” Augustine, along with members of his reggae band Mosaic Foundation, under the name Cha Cha & The Ndor Band. The Ndor Band released the record “Food For Thought,” to raise funds for the Ndor EcoVillage, founded by Augustine in his home village in Ghana, which teaches permaculture and other sustainable farming practices to local farmers. In 2012, BMSM also released “Warrior,” with vocalist Jay Spaker a.k.a. J-San (John Brown’s Body, J-San & the Analogue Sons) under the name J-San & the Big Mean.
In 2013, Big Mean Sound Machine materialized a new goal: to pass along the groove to the next generation of young musicians. While many of the members of BMSM teach private lessons to students ranging in age from infants to late teens, last year marked the first in what promises to be a long line of clinics put on by the Sound Machine Collective. The workshops, which are adjustable to any age-range, skill-level and experience-level, communicate to participants the concepts of Rhythm, Improvisation, and Cooperative Communication as they apply to music that draws influences from around the world.