“Zorbing” is the recreation or sport of rolling downhill inside an orb.
Saturday night at The Trocadero Room, New York-based Moon Hooch invited a jam-packed crowd into their giant orb for a non-stop rolling, bouncing, banging, slipping, sliding, expedition across all seven continents, and the “hill” was an Everest scale eminence with unexpected musical precipices and wildly varied terrain.
From first note forward, at least one of the energetic trio is always playing something to create a continuous dance music feel, but this is so much more than just one pulsing rhythm washing into another and beating you into submission. The clay from which Moon Hooch sculpts the journey might start with funk, house, jazz, rap, metal, or even a steady almost bagpipe-like dirge. Anywhere you point on this migration can find you happily bounding down a grassy slope with gentle tumbles and bumps that suspend you in slow motion bliss at their apex, before unexpectedly splashing down into a damp and cool rain forest river. The smooth rhythmic flow suddenly gathers pace and accelerates from a Class 1, to a Class 3 rapid, spinning and jarring your senses in the white water. Before you can recover you’re spit out over the top of a mile-high sonic waterfall which then freezes halfway down, morphing into a gnarly King Kong sized musical mogul chute that finally tails out into a forest of aspen’s, as your plastic orb, ricocheting from tree to tree until torn and deflated, finally comes to rest.
Wenzl McGowen and Mike Wilbur attack each number primarily with saxophones, playing both support and lead roles, but they also add a bit of synth, clarinet, the occasional vocal, and interesting elements such as an electronic wind instrument “EWI” that responds to both breath and touch. They’re also able to create some amazing tonal sensations with a little bit of processing from their onstage laptop rig, resulting in a wide array of melodic textures. Wilbur in particular is fond of manipulating the keys of his sax with his left hand while gesturing rap-style to the crowd with his right, all the while belting out emphatic notes at the audience in a “you will hear me” fashion and whipping them into a frenzy.
Meanwhile the slight, yet sinewy strong and shirtless James Muschler backs the whole thing with air-tight percussion mixed with frenetic riff outbursts from behind a kit whose bent cymbals bear the evidence of the nightly beating they take, appearing as if a brass-eating robot with bad teeth had given them a satisfying chomp.
Moon Hooch uniquely delivers a creative, energetic, and unyielding assault on your auditory senses. If you have the wherewithal to examine how they’re doing so, it’s really quite remarkable as both music, and simply art. If analysis isn’t your thing and you’d just prefer to climb in that orb and go, they’ll just as happily welcome you aboard their self-crafted inhibition-less ride.