Click here to expand and collapse the player

Invisible Cities

Rate It! Avg: 4.0 (165 ratings)
Invisible Cities album cover
Invisible Cities
Banners on High
Album Information

Total Tracks: 9   Total Length: 42:26

Find a problem with a track? Let us know.

Wondering Sound

Review 0

Avatar Image
Richard Gehr


Richard Gehr has been writing about music, culture, and travel for quite a while. He has been an editor for the Los Angeles Reader, Spin, and Sonicnet/MTV Inter...more »

Afrobeat meets funk meets fusion meets '70s free jazz meets your pleasure receptors
Label: Ubiquity Records

Released less than a year after Ghost Rock, the equally excellent Invisible Cities captures the instrumental nonet's robust onstage spirit in the studio, blending tracks recorded during the Ghost Rock sessions with others laid down during an extensive tour. Keyboardist-bandleader Elliot Bergman has described the Ann Arbor-based group as "more a rock band than anything else"; a fair-enough reduction if your definition of rock includes such descriptors as speed and, in the Dylan-esque sense… read more »

Write a Review 4 Member Reviews

Please register before you review a release. Register

user avatar

Lucky to get to see them in Ann Arbor


They are out of town a lot now as they become well known, but their summer outdoor concerts are always magical. More than their other records, "Invisible Cities" captures their mystery and excitement.

user avatar

just get it


It is too hard to describe everything you'll hear on this album and the track previews don't give the full effect either... so just download it and experience it for your self. There's good variety of rhythms and textures throughout, but if you're only going to get a few tracks try #3, #4, and #5.

user avatar

Don't Miss


Not sure how else to characterize this group except that this album is a great time. Interesting arrangements, strong tunes, great playing all around.

user avatar

Great Stuff!


Absolutely impossible to NOT have a great time listening to this. I am loving everything I have purchased from this band, but this album is a giant among slightly smaller giants. Doesn't matter what you download from NOMO, you'll love it. You may not be able to admit you like it, but you'll like it.

Recommended Albums

They Say All Music Guide

Those who thought NOMO’s 2008 Ghost Rock set finally defined the band as musical and sonic adventurers who could play virtually anything under the sun and spin it their way were right — to a point. That recording was the real deal and the full flowering of multi-instrumentalist Elliot Bergman’s wide-ranging aesthetic, which included Afro-beat, funk, vanguard jazz, Krautrock, progressive new music, forgotten folk traditions, and everything in between. Invisible Cities, recorded during the Ghost Rock sessions and in between touring schedules, is not a further extension of that sound, but an expansion of NOMO’s musical identity and sonic architecture. Across nine tracks and just over 42 minutes, this band’s multi-horn front line, trademark electric kalimbas, big bustling basslines, and incantatory drumming scatter themselves over a large plot of ground, with the only real references to be made being in a pair of covers. They do Moondog’s wonderful “Bumbo,” albeit in a manner that stretches the original almost to the breaking point with an anything-goes, nocturnal, and sinister approach and a great staggered horn melodic line, a junkyard of a percussion section, and a little skronk thrown in. The other cover, of Tom Zé’s “Ma,” would sound like a performance by a different band save for Bergman’s trademark baritone and his perversely beautiful elastic arrangement. The samba-cum-R&B stretch is made more profound by the distorted guitars and kalimbas, choppy trumpets, and backing vocals. This is tropicalia by way of Neal Hefti and Louis Jordan, a theme song of seemingly unknown origin. The title track opener, a six-minute workout of funky odd time signatures, multi-layered percussion, and a blistering horn chart with a hummable tough funky melody, is pulled taut by atmospherics, elements of distortion, and seemingly found sounds.
But these big fat danceable numbers aren’t what makes this set unique — NOMO could get a roomful of cadavers shaking their asses. No, it’s the less aggressive cuts, such as “Banners on High,” that have just as much going on but are less obvious because the horns are muted and it’s the kalimbas, Rhodes piano, and rhythm instruments that create the thrum and squall. Dan Piccolo’s drumming is an inner state of hypnosis in and of itself with his breaks and rim shots. The horns are treated sonically, and become long sound ribbons with the brass on top of the saxophones for a choir-like effect. The rock-steady bass of Jamie Register amid all that swirling, spooky instrumental elegance and dubwise abstraction with abounding reverb and delay is something akin to the solid meter of spoken poetry in rising floodwaters. The long modal intro to “Elijah” carries within it Sephardic folk music even as the improvising, restrained-but-outside horns articulate voices wailing in the ambient wilderness. NOMO broke the mold this time out. They’ve created their own brand of music that doesn’t “mash up” anything. Theirs is a holistic sound that contains everything from the inside. Check out the last track, “Nocturne,” with its chanted vocals, staggered electric kalimbas, skittering drums, reeds, guitars, and bass all replying to extend that chant into the stratosphere. This is a night song, but it’s one that is endless. This nocturne comes from the band’s own country, one that can be discovered and identified as a place of belonging in the ear and in the heart, but it can never be set in a fixed place on any sort of map. This is elsewhere music one can feel eternally at home in, no matter your place of origin. – Thom Jurek

more »