Bomba - Learn to Breathe

I don't like reggae. But throw some funk soul into the mix...Wow! What a difference a band makes. No offence to Nicky Bomba, after all it's still his show, but the new CD "Lean to Breathe" is so much better than I was expecting.


I've seen their interactive live shows a couple of times, with the perverted crowd version of ‘duck duck goose'. I was also suckered into buying his last collaborative effort with Joe Camilleri, which was so languid it became a work CD at the retail place I was working at the time. With the studio results of Bomba in true band formation, however, I am thoroughly impressed.


On the more traditionally reggae tracks like "Little Death" and "Simisay", the reggae back bone is blessed with respectful lyrics and funk chunk strings overlaying the simple drop beat. The easy option is only taken on a couple of tracks, with the unfathomably kitsch "Bully For You" an album low-point. Normally a sap for a fat dirty horns feature, I found their subdued use perfectly balanced, with the keys being the feature across most of the tracks. Their combination with the plump bass through the bridge of "Learn to Breathe" and in the hook for "Going Solo", showing the band's understanding of traditional groove combinations, and the true meaning of funk.


One record highlight is the opening "Spaced Out", drawing you in with the Sublime-esque, booty shaking, allegro tempo and, enough soul to be at home at The Night Cat. Also a favourite is the beautifully melodic "Essence Changed", somewhat darker in sound than the rest of the laissé faire tracks. From what I've seen live, the record is a good representation of the Bomba sound and ethos. Lyrically tackling the big issues and revelling in the small joys of life and love.


There's a plethora of these funk/soul/reggae/roots bands in Melbourne at the moment, and for my money, Bomba's one of the top 2. They've been doing it longer, actually have a distinct sound that doesn't get repetitive and boring, and have mastered the right mix of their left field instruments, dubs, and old school rhythms. And for your money its bloody good value with over an hours worth of quality local grooves.

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