Ann Arbor’s funky ensemble Nomo can’t have its music reduced to a simple blurb. But it says a great deal about any working band when the four covers it counts over a career comprising just as many discs are from the utterly dissimilar catalogs of Segun Bucknor, Joanna Newsom, Moondog and Tom Zé. As wild as that combination sounds, Nomo works within some self-imposed restraints. The group’s first disc, a 2004 self-titled effort, can be wrapped easily in the afro-beat mantle. Granted, “…Too Well” gets as funky as it gets free, but there just isn’t the sort of exploration in Nomo’s first full-length that’s found in their later works. 2006 found the band hooking up with the Ubiquity imprint for “New Tones.” With cuts like “Reasons” incorporating spacey electronics into the proceedings, Nomo began pushing beyond forms afro-beat and funk groups had become accustomed to. The technological trickery, however, wasn’t a pervasive feature of the album, nor would it be on “Ghost Rock,” issued two years later. “All the Stars,” like its predecessors on “New Tones,” sputters out introductory passages rife with distorted electronic manipulation before quickly turning to percussion-heavy sections of the composition equally suited to balmy dance floors and Yaphet Kotto movies. The album as a whole continues the ramping up of percussion coupled with boastful blasts of horn and more aggressive sax solos than previously included in Nomo’s recorded work. With such noticeable shifts in approach during the run of its first three albums, the ensemble was expected to innovate on the 2009 “Invisible Cities.” It didn’t, but the band did turn in a disc’s worth of thoughtful tracks that carried on ideals explored over earlier albums. Creativity wasn’t stepped down; there was just a lull in change fans had come to expect from these Midwesterners. Live shows with anywhere from six to eight players, though, shouldn’t disappoint. (Dave Cantor)
November 25 at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, (773)525-2508, 10pm. $15.