Noot d' Noot's groove is in the heart

Cash for Gold picks up where Deee-Lite left off

Local music institution Noot d’ Noot is an enigma, a 10-piece space-funk ensemble that transcends formulaic pop to focus on rhythmic, psychedelic excursions. The Noot sound is part Deee-Lite, part Miles Davis — a headlong journey into soul, funk, jazz and dance music that’s always about keeping the party moving.

The group wields loose, funky jams intuitively built around an inside joke in which the punch line seems less important than having fun. “Think of it as a Dadaist musical approach,” says percussionist Mathis Hunter, who performs under the name Bimbi Smoofus. “Through the absurdity we hope to convey the sublime.”

Essentially, Noot d’ Noot is a 1990-now dance band inspired by the source material of the ’70s. “Everyone was partying in the '90s,” says keyboardist Dream Sanitation, né Rich Morris, who recalls taking a trip to the mall nearly two decades ago to purchase the “cassingle” for Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is in the Heart.”

“Bootsy Collins' cameo in the video for that song was like our generation’s first exposure to Funkadelic,” Hunter recalls, “so in a way they were an important influence for us.”

“Fingers Like Steeples,” the lead track from Noot d’ Noot’s latest, self-released EP, Cash for Gold, refines the linear funk excursions of its 2008 full-length, Goofer Dust (International Hits). Bound by sharp, anthemic choruses and a heavy dose of slick, feminine wiles from dual vocalists Electro Siren and Circuit Diva, the song offers a brief reprieve from the EP’s experimental theme. A live version follows, showcasing the difference between the band’s studio sound and the wild atmosphere onstage. Musically, it illustrates how far the Noots can stretch, particularly as a songwriting unit. Though still capable of sending up spacey, improv-laden workouts ("Down the Tracks" and "Cold Duck”), the warped grooves that bind the record together show remarkable growth through the collective’s ability to harness instinct, chemistry and history.