Mo'Chi: Fusing Sweet Energy Back into Funk

Are you ready for the funkiest grooves to swing through space since Funkadelic?  Funk that fulfills to maximum capacity a long-neglected niche?  Mo'Chi revives the spacey vibes of Parliament and Funkadelic with a whole new rotation in their stellar debut album, The Tails of Rod Jonson.

Mo'Chi's self-ascribed mission - or rather, their assignment from the higher life forms - is to funkify your music life and promote interplanetary and world peace through the medium of music.  The album, with its vibrant family of funk, rock and hip-hop, also brings some reggae and dub relations to the table, reflecting the various elements that surrounded the emergence of funk in the 1960's and 1970's and those increasingly electronic trends that followed as a result.

The band's name refers to "more chi" or energy, as chi represents the universal life force in Oriental tradition.  Also, as with many aspects of this multi-tasking group, there's further meaning to be derived.  Feel free to associate Mochi with the sumptuous Japanese dessert; both the band and its namesake tantalize with engaging suppleness on their outer form and out-of-this-world surprises on the inside.

From deep within the industrial bomb shelters of the Los Angeles underground, Mo'Chi is comprised of The Professor Juggs (Jepson Staral), Bass Maintenance (Jerami Menella), Rory on Los Tambores (Rory Sandhage), Mikey Haya (Michael Hayungs), JakeLand (Jake Policky), Will B. (Will Beard), and Pasquale "Rubs" Walioo (Pasquale Angelucci).  The influences upon these fine and varied musicians include the aforementioned funk legends of P-Funk as well as RHCP, Zappa, Primus and 311.

Mo'Chi provides a freeing sonic environment of pure funk in which to let loose and let the alien in you take over.  Their groovy percussion inspires movement - a little foot-tapping, head-nodding, hip-swaying, booty-shaking - spreading the funk over you like intoxicating gas permeating your lungs.  The free-flowing vocals, led by the smooth-talking Jepson Staral, are innovatively contoured around the structures provided by the lilting guitars, the groovy bass, and the rockin'-funk drum kit and congas.  The fun stream-of-consciousness- type lyrics evoke vivid imagery over the well-integrated ensemble that both meanders around spacey psychedelia and rocks with aggression.  The vocals are often layered in reverberation, echoing the ends of phrases like the tails of shooting stars guiding and gliding you through the celestial journey.  Several often irreverent plays on words poke fun at pop culture, controversial political figures including Nixon, and more.

The concept album follows the escapades of Rod Jonson, a chimp.  Why a chimp?  You learn something new every day: chimps are the closest of the primates, with 98% of the same DNA as humans.  Don't take it all too seriously - Mo'Chi languishes in the absurdity of a white funk band.  The cartoonish album offers loosely knit perspectives and invites you to forge your own.

Now, just how comfortable was Rod Johnson getting with those mystical-architecturally-inclined aliens?  This is just one of the many questions this album might pose.  These are questions not to be entered into lightly… well ok, maybe they are.  From the very first spacey sounds gracing the introduction of this chimp-themed album, it is clear this will be no ordinary journey.  Oscillators and grooves infused with an ample dose of unmistakable funk mark the extraterrestrial appeal: "Pray to Obbleesque."  Be warned: you are now exiting the world of the dreary and the mundane, guided by a narrator who instructs us to "Build some temples… make beautiful music with one another… and do something that my alien brothers tell me to do… make funk!"  This urging launches us directly into the well-mixed jam of the second track, "Monkeys" - also the theme of these Tails.

The fifth track, "Party Geeks" is a great example of the stream-of-consciousness- type language, often elaborate to the point of ridiculousness such as the unique expressions (imparted upon these funk masters by otherworldly intelligence no doubt) "abstractosphere" and "cyclotron."  In fact, there may even be some otherworldly intelligence inherent in this group already, as the day jobs of these party geeks include bassist Jerami's work as a chemist for a certain government space program.  Mo'Chi's lyrical talent is further evidenced in the upbeat, freestyle-oriented "Babytown," a track chock-full of elaborate language cunningly linked together.  But lest the style start to overshadow the content, abundant food for thought entices the intellectual listener, such as the discourse of  "Ego Floss," as Jepson expatiates, "When revolution, is institutionalized / when confusion, is a way of life."

Back to the chief chimp: in the notable sixth track, "Eviction," an alien summons Rod Jonson back to 21st-century Earth, implying Rod to be a lazy houseguest and drawing upon a dubious quote by Benjamin Franklin regarding the unsavory olfactory properties of houseguests of long duration.  Apparently Rod has spent three months occupying the Obbleesque's couch, consuming their astro-snacks, and the aliens have things to do, and urge Rod to be less of a hermit, less codependent.  No doubt many of us can relate to these issues.

The standout ninth track, "Beautiful Lady," evokes the feel of an island party with its languorous, yet invigorating melodic progression.  It seems only fitting to listen to this mellifluous song and imagine yourself swaying and singing along with a tropical drink in hand, looking out upon the twilight lazily subduing the brilliance of an ocean sunset.  This song seamlessly interweaves harmonic crooning with the strong, reassuring presence of louder bass, kick drums, and guitar.  The wah-pedal on the latter instrument is testament to Mo'Chi's dedication to the funk that unifies their diverse tracks.  The final track, "Praytu Obbleesque" is a persuasively booty-shaking entreat in which the funk-filled oscillators, filters and beats unravel into a thoroughly abstract sonic confection.

This is the sort of refreshing album you can listen to several times over and always notice something new.   The subtle, layered, ingenious humor insinuated into each multifaceted track forges a distinction between the subterranean sonic depths and celestial surfaces.  The album also has an ambient quality in its spaciness; it is listenable on many levels.  Listen intently to extract all the fun and meaning within the music, or relegate the tracks to a more ambient role, glossing over the abstractness but enjoying the subtle fortification of funk within your soul.

Overall, Mo'Chi resonates with pure pleasure and enjoyment of the beautiful expression that is music.  They are proud to carry on and uphold the legacy of funk through the form of the absurdist white funk band.  In the words of "Babytown," "The things we say, may sound rough / Add a little gravy, makes good stuff!"  Or, as the band asserts, "MO'CHI is the religion of choice for chimps, and 45 million of 'em can't be wrong!"

For y'all down to get funked, check out

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