We first heard about Mocha Din and the Cosmic boogers at the Sydney Writers festival. I had inadvertently attended a talk organized by the SWF- I say inadvertently because I went to the talk only because it was a reading by Neil Gaiman, to top it all it was held in the Uni, rather than some inaccessible venue in the middle of the City. The talk was very good, Gaiman is an excellent speaker, and he had us all enthralled during the reading of a short story from his yet to be published book, a collection of short stories called “Fragile Things”, as well as a poem called “The days the saucers came”. He enjoyed the talk- he called it very different, so I assume it must have been interesting for him as well. Anyway, the talk was but one of millions hosted by the Sydney Writers Festival, and the bulk of those were held near the Rocks area of downtown Sydney.
It seemed rather silly to talk about Mocha Din and the Cosmic boogers when the main event was the Sydney Writers Festival, or even the Mexican Film Festival that we went to later, but such are the ways of this world. A sudden flash, a quick insight, a shared secret, and you are quickly on the way to some unplanned destinations. The making of patterns is a noble task, and as long as the patterns are interesting, there is no blame in following them. It didn’t take much to set us off on this path: just a glimpse of Mocha Din and the Cosmic Boogers huddled around a coffee table, and we were caught in a new world.
Mocha Din and the Cosmic Boogers first burst onto the music scene in the last couple of years, and they were everybody’s best kept secret, but a secret that you couldn’t help revealing to your best friend. Their popularity spread through word of mouth alone. You might think that this was a bit anachronistic, especially in this information age that we live in. But you’d be wrong; it was just that the medium had changed. Emails, sms, and phone calls essentially ensured that Mocha Din went viral, to the extent that every performance would be mobbed just a few moments before it actually started even if the performance itself was a closely kept secret. But we didn’t know all of this, it was only after we stumbled across a very rare hand crafted CD by the group and a few painful hours spent trawling the Internet was I able to come up with a bit of a backstory.
The CD turned out to be the first ever release of Mocha Din and the Cosmic Boogers’ music (intriguingly titled as CD#8). The cover featured a photograph of a face being attacked by a strand of light, and it is said that the band found their name when they came across this photo. Mocha Din is supposed to be a great believer in the power of serendipity and I quote from an interview (an interview by the way that was not only not official, but rather stolen from him in the guise of sharing a light for his cigarette on a rainy Sydney evening. This too has added to the myth behind the band)-“There are signs all around us. What makes them symbols, instead, is by our recognition that these signs are important to our lives”. It can be easily argued that the image that lent such power to the band’s name, has also influenced the music in directions that was entirely different from what they were used to up to now.
Mocha Din and the Cosmic boogers play a genre of music that is very hard to describe. Electro-folk? Ethnic subversive funk? Techno soul? It’s very hard to place this music in any particular state, mainly because the music invariably involves not only a meeting of states or styles, but instead a virtual collision. Instruments that do not have any business being played together not only play together but also merge and weave musical magic in incomparable ways. I am left a bit bemused by their first CD, and it is hard to review something so ground breaking that there is really no basis for comparison. One must take refuge in metaphors, and even these sound hollow after a while. One can talk about meteors or underwater volcanoes till the cows come home, but surely describing something that can only vaguely be captured in words is almost futile.
So in the end we only have statistics. There are 8 ‘songs’. They are on average 8 mins long. There are 4 people in the band. Mocha Din favours the harmonica, but of course, nothing is simple about this group, so the harmonica is heavily modified. The rest of the band does not even have pseudonyms. They have lots of guest musicians, but all the music is written by the core group. The CD is sparse on details other than song names, which are in no language I can identify. Even the dedicated fan following at the usenet groups have no clue what the songs mean, and it is believed that several amateur linguists have tried but failed to identify the language. But in any case, the name of the songs is really no indication of the songs themselves, which wanders all over the musical landscape of our times.
I would like to recommend this CD, but I’m not even sure that you can find it. One of these days, I’ll upload samples of the CD onto the web, and maybe it will finally elevate the profile of a band that deserves to be heard by all.