“BMSM might be one of my favorite bands on the planet. With a horn section to kill for, a drummer that can put me in a beat coma instantly, and a knack for hitting grooves in a pantsless stride, they aren’t easy to ignore,” writes Joel Frieders of SYFFAL.com and he’s not kidding. For a band without a lead singer, Big Mean Sound Machine has character in spades. When assembled from a selection of the finest, well-lubricated, musically brilliant human components, the final result is the aural equivalent of positive feeling, “…the embodiment of feeling… delicious,” writes Frieders. People dance when a rhythm moves them, and there’s no defying instinct when Big Mean Sound Machine is on stage.
Anyone who has experienced the band in action knows that their performances are the heaviest and sweatiest. “Incorporating Caribbean, African, and Latin sounds and everything in between, these musicians… sound as though they’ve been playing together since the sandbox days. They transition effortlessly from a collective of trombone, sax, and trumpet to riveting soloists. Then, there is heavy bass before… percussion, guitar, or keys take the limelight, and when [they’re] not playing simultaneously, those who are stepping aside are jamming out as if they were in the crowd with the rest of us,” writes Mary Mistretta, of UpstateLIVE. A polyrhythmic monster with a crisp, constant, unrelenting groove, the band brings together many musical traditions in a unique blend that reinterprets and reanimates live dance music unlike any other band playing today.
At the band’s birth in Central New York State, the founders wanted to set themselves apart artistically while honoring the true, primal reason that people listen to music in the first place: because good music feels good; and though their sound has evolved since their inception in June 2009, they have stayed true to their mission for the better part of a decade. Few bands can trace their roots all the way back to a specific set of values shared in casual conversation among good friends; in the case of Big Mean Sound Machine, honoring the ideas the group was founded on seems to be more of an instinct than a choice.
Big Mean is contemporary proof that it’s possible to create art that stimulates the body while also challenging the mind to explore beyond the status quo. “For the listener who stops shaking to pay attention at a Big Mean show, they can find a musical education,” writes Josh Brokaw of The Ithaca Times. Borrowing elements from traditional afrobeat, roots reggae, ethiojazz, and funk among others, “Big Mean’s [style] is not easily captured by the precise, genre-parsing descriptors of a contemporary music press that’s uncomfortable admitting to being surprised with a new sound,” writes Brokaw. Their instrumental soundscapes have no overt messages yet they’re anything but barren. “You get the feeling of walking the streets in a city late at night as those who are up to no good are coming out of their homes searching for their next score,” writes Bryan Lasky of NYSmusic.com. “Seamed together by an amazing rhythm section… the core of the group commands attention while providing a passionate and constant groove,” boasts Vinyl Fluid Records, noting the fact that this purely instrumental band stimulates audiences both physically and cerebrally, though devoid of vocal indoctrination. The theme the band delivers again and again through evolving rhythms and melodies is to enjoy music for its creativity and musicality, and the way it makes you feel in every sense of being able to feel.