Enter the Mowo!

May 19, 2004 at 12:00 am

Like scores of hip-hop samplers and French lounge turntablists before him, DJ and producer Adam Dorn has turned to jazz to help elevate his own style of electronic dance music. On Enter the Mowo!, Dorn, who performs as Mocean Worker, has incorporated saxophone, electric and acoustic piano, upright bass, trumpet solos and gorgeous vocal snippets. In doing so, he’s also extracted contributions from the A list, scoring samples from sax ace David “Fathead” Newman, wind master Rahsaan Roland Kirk and vocalist Nina Simone.

Yet it is hard to look at the resulting album as jazz. Dorn, son of star jazz-soul-pop producer Joel Dorn, differs from his predecessors in this jazz-electro hybrid game in that he still aims to make house music and to keep his compositions as ambient as possible. He’s not creating — nor is he trying to — a new brand of jazz, which critics accused French DJ St. Germain of doing (and rightfully so) a few years back. Hence, “Shamma Lamma Ding Dong” is a propulsive funk track built on repetition, in spite of Kirk’s amazing flute work, and the chimes-driven “I’ll Take the Woods” is as influenced by Björk as by any longtime ringer of the supper-club circuit. Elsewhere, as on spooky Bill Frisell vehicle “Salted Fatback” and the rumbling “Move,” Dorn seems concerned with creating breakbeats and suspense, not with highlighting his album’s trickery and gimmicks. That makes Enter the Mowo! a wholly unique entry into the electronic canon, a jazz-like mixtape that makes no pretense of being, like, jazz.

E-mail Christopher O'Connor at [email protected].