Inglorious Eastern Cowboy by ALI
25 Feb 2022
Every now and then a band comes along that completely shatters genres and manages to entirely birth it's own sound. The last thing we are ever going to be able to do is pigeonhole the Alien Liberty International, more commonly known as ALI. Members have come together from multiple continents to fuse their varied backgrounds, influences and expertise to create a colourful melting pot of funk, jazz, hip hop and a seasoning of just about every other style you can think of.
Inglorious Eastern Cowboy is ALI's third EP and their shortest to date at only 16 minutes. The speed and power of the opening track Teenage City Riot certainly suggests a wild adventure is about to begin so it is a shame we only have three other tracks to get lost in. With that minor criticism out the way though there is a whole lot to love about this record. From the needle drop you are suddenly transported in to the opening scene of a Japanese Baz Luhrmann film. A drum roll foreshadows an impressive horn section that eventually parts to make way for vocalist Leo Imamura's dramatic opener drenched in emotion, satire and oceans of energy. Imamuras flexibility is showcased from multiple angles in just this one song. He moves between sharp whispers to grandiose concert hall projections whilst varying his tempo and character constantly. His fire is really symbolic of the whole band who all individually are at the peak of their game. A short bridge brings with it a 1950s style guitar solo at three times the speed before the horns slam us back in to the main rhythm with vengeance.
Whole Lotta Love and Found Blue show a marginally softer side to ALI. The latter moving along a much lazier tempo and with piano playing a more central role. A melancholic trumpet solo from Takuya Kuroda sits upon the plateau at the top of this tune and layered vocals add depth and atmosphere. This is the closest Imamura comes to sincerity on a record that is mostly underpinned with a lighthearted foolishness but he pulls it off well. A great achievement should also be recognised in what is clearly a naturally ferocious drummer holding back to a great extent to help drive this moody, soulful number without stealing the limelight.
The EP closes at the pace and volume that it opened with the momentous jazz epic Dance You, Matilda. Here the band come across like a Japanese Mr Bungle with the drums and percussion ensuring we never really know where we are going. The guitar has a much more contemporary sound during it's solo that prematurely steps aside to give room for the bass to shine. All members are on top form for this progressive jazz adventure and although every listener is going to want 5 more tracks it is a perfect ending.
Inglorious Eastern Cowboy is an absolute powerhouse of a record that will move you through different cultures and eras of music like a stage show with grand psychedelic sets and crowds of dancers. ALI are expressive and utterly entrancing with their style and overall approach with Imamura acting as their ringmaster and emcee. I honestly believe there are very few people that will dislike this EP so if you are breathing and have functioning ears then I strongly recommend you check it out. Once you have done that be sure, as always, to let me know what you think.