Current Issue #488

Enter the playful, technicolour world of Slowmango

Kaspar Schmidt Mumm
Slowmango EP

Led by brothers Adrian and Kaspar Schmidt Mumm, Adelaide group Slowmango blurs the borders between between visual art and music with a globetrotting sound perfect for your next housebound dance party.

“We’ve never officially been in a band together until Slowmango, but we’ve certainly played a lot of music together, collaborated on countless projects and played a big part in each other’s creative developments,” Adrian Schmidt Mumm says of his bandmate and visual artist brother Kaspar. 

“It’s something we’ve been doing since before we could walk and talk.”

While the Schmidt Mumms’ creative worlds have overlapped before – Kaspar’s performance/installation works IMMI and The Flaming ‘O’ both prominently featured music by Adrian – the band marks a new step in that lifelong collaboration, joined by bandmates Aidan J Jones, Zeno Kordov and Matthew Morison.

“The concept of Slowmango was partially born from another project we’re part of, The Bait Fridge, which is an arts collective in which we play completely improvised music accompanying live art and performance,” Adrian explains. “I decided to actually write and develop songs in a similar vein, but with a twist of our international influences, and in April 2019 moved to the hills, locked myself in a small studio and got to work.”

Adrian’s isolation – a full year before everyone was doing it – eventually led to the group’s self-titled EP, tracked on a farm in Willunga with musician and producer Surahn Sidhu. Listening to the three five-minute-long jams that comprise the EP, the Slowmango sound evokes the kind of lost-and-found international grooves Australian listeners might usually hear via some boutique reissue label; music that comes with a vinyl crackle even on CD because it’s been dubbed from some rare LP.

Emmaline Zanelli
Adrian Schmidt Mumm
Emmaline Zanelli
Kaspar Schmidt Mumm

“It seems that everywhere has its unique take on different genres, like Funk from the Middle-East, Psych Rock from Peru or Country Music from Thailand, and the way they emerge and take on their own personality is what fascinates me,” Adrian says of the band’s internationalist influences.

“Take Ethiopian Jazz for example: a fusion of traditional Ethiopian folk music with American Jazz and Afro-Latin rhythms played on modern European instruments. With Australia being such a melting-pot of cultures, and living in such a globalised time, it felt natural to me to make music which reflects that.”

The group’s other key influence, however, is more philosophical than musical.

“Play,” Kaspar says. “Playing ties our disciplines together. The word play has a completely different context when linked with music. It seems as though some of the conditions that music allows the word, are lost in other artforms. ‘Playing’ seems immature or irresponsible – in most cases – but in music playing is what you do.”

Part of that play extends to the band’s visuals, which in keeping with Kaspar’s style and the group’s art show improv origins create a colourful, eccentric world for the music to inhabit.

“From a visual arts context, I understand how hard it is to allow myself to play. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who can sense when someone’s project is open to playful input. Emmaline Zanelli and James Brown – sometimes referred to as the sixth and seventh members of the band – have been collaborating with us for years, we all help each other. Emmaline and James are primarily visual artists, but we have learnt to play across disciplines. 

“Even the most disparate disciplines have a universal aura of enthusiasm in how they are played,” he says. “It’s sewing and yielding that enthusiasm which has allows us to collaborate on projects like; IMMI, The Bait Fridge – and Slowmango.”

Slowmango‘s self-titled EP is out now

The group will also perform a Sunny Side Uploads session on Sunday 10 May at 7pm

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer and editor living on Kaurna Country.

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