1/  The Blast, The Bloom                       (TA,Holden,Sawyer,Werner)     3.29
  2/  Hugh Beaumont's Dead                       (Adebempe,AH,Sawyer,Werner)   4.09
  3/  Knocking Ghost                             (Adebempe,Holden,RS,Werner)   3.30
  4/  WPIC                                       (Adebempe,Holden,Sawyer,JW)   4.26
  5/  Mad Lifeline                               (TA,Holden,Sawyer,Werner)     6.34

          Recorded at Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey
          Engineered by James Dellatacoma
          Mixed by Daniel Schlett at Strange Weather
          Track 5 mix translation by Bill Laswell at Orange Music
          Track 5 mix engineer: Robert Musso
          Produced by Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band
          Mastered by Steve Fallone at Sterling Sound
Tunde Adebimpe: vocals, loops; Alex Holden: guitar; Ryan Sawyer: traps; Josh Werner: bass.

          2013 - ZNA (USA), ZNA01 (12")
          2013 - ZNA (USA), ZNA01 (promotional CD)


It’s hard not to mention TV on the Radio when discussing Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band. That’s because HWBMB is the side project of Tunde Adebimpe, lead singer of TVOTR. HWBMB allows Adebimpe (and his band mates Alex Holden, Ryan Sawyer, and Josh Werner) to explore different ground than he treads with TVOTR. This new band of his is a bit trippier, a bit more distorted, and just as good.

Their debut self-titled, five-song EP starts out with “The Blast, The Bloom” – it’s a dreamy track with precision drumming, spaghetti western guitars, shadowy bass, and Adebimpe’s usual stunning vocals that can go from caressing to wall-flattening in the blink of an eye.

“Hugh Beaumont Is Dead” seems to be about the death of suburbia and the pointlessness of the rat race (with Adebimpe repeating “You were born to the illusion.”). It has one of the best grooves on the EP (and some crisp-as-a-potato chip high-hat work) that builds to a chanting, wild freak-out.

“Knocking Ghost” reminds me of a long-lost Midnight Oil track at first, but then Adebimpe starts playing with his vocal distortion effects while the powerful drum track underlines everything he says. The bass on this is like a panther walking around the room.

I don’t know what “Wpic” means, but I do know that it has this great, quiet urgency running through the whole track. Adebimpe’s band is so good in their subtlety and smart use of power. They can go from flat-out rock to jazz grooves to psychedelic trips without missing a beat. It’s one of the best cuts on the record (and great live, by the way).

The EP ends with “Mad Lifeline,” which belongs on the soundtrack to whatever movie the Coen Brothers want to make next. It is dark, weird, sexy, dusty, and dangerous. The vocal distortions on it push Adebimpe’s voice into strange chants, the guitar and beats are Middle Eastern, and there is more Jack the Ripper bass skulking in the dark corners.

We may not have a new TOVTR album right now, but we have Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band, and they are a great band on their own. Their debut EP is beyond cool. It’s chilling.

Nik Havert (courtesy of the Outlaw Magazine website)


It's probably fair to say that we are not currently living in the age of the polymath. Jamie Foxx and, once upon a time, Will Smith have turned their hands to hip hop, and Tom Waits and Jon Bon Jovi make the odd film appearance with varying degrees of success, but none of these are exactly Thomas Young. Arguably the closest we have to a genuinely multifaceted artist in the contemporary music scene is TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe: accomplished singer, producer, actor, director, and animator.

Adebimpe appears to be using Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band to explore his Krautrock and drone leanings. He's accompanied on this self-titled EP by Ryan Sawyer (Lone Wolf and Cub), Josh Werner (Lee "Scratch" Perry, CocoRosie), and Alex Holden (Big Numbers), all artists with leanings to that genre, but despite the obvious attempt to capture the sound of the likes of Can and Talk Talk, this comes across as a shot at ambitious retromania that sadly falls short.

Adebimpe's vocals are above solid and as soulful as ever, not least on highlight "Hugh Beaumont is Dead," but feel stark against reverb-soaked drones that sputter out rather than intricately bubble into life as you feel they should. (www.hwbmb.com)

Author rating: 5/10

Dan Lucas (courtesy of the Under the Radar website)