Wednesday, October 6, 1999

Spheres of influence

Posted By on Wed, Oct 6, 1999 at 12:00 AM

The whole of the globe is open for bartering and exchange in the one-world musical market. American musical ears have, thankfully, become attuned to the same pervasive and constant interchange of cultures that’s now taken for granted in the business and corporate realms – sans most of the exploitation. And, while American pop culture colonialism is still the general rule, one need only look to the commercial success enjoyed by Latin American pop acts, Cuban jazz artists finally getting their due, the wild mishmash of Japanese shibuya-pop of acts such as Pizzicato 5, Cornelius and so many others to realize that our borders are still very much open.

I thank you for your attention to the preceding preamble because Macha’s See It Another Way is another, more subtle example of the necessary musical cross-pollination that keeps the sounds around us vital. The Athens, Ga.-based quartet takes its name from a cautionary Gaelic folk tale and its sound from a mixture of Can’s funky drone, Velvet Underground’s eerie ambience, American indie rock’s minor-key introspection, a bit of that old, mid-’80s post-new-wave black magic and a fascination with the musical and environmental sounds of Indonesia. Macha’s 1998 self-titled debut introduced a horde of ringer-T’d indie kids to the entrancing sound of the gamelan and a few other Pacific Rim instrumental touches – and that, couched in the context of Macha’s taut, rhythm-based songwriting and breathy, mystic lyrics, made for a hypnotizing listen. In fact, See It Another Way isn’t so much a progression from Macha’s sonic equation as it is a document of a band feeling the flow of the river it set out upon. (Though the elegiac twinkle of the instrumental track, "Submarine Lover," is a fresh wonder in and of itself, and the stunning eight-minute album closer, "Between Stranded Sonars," will leave you simply breathless.)

Where other bands stretching this far afield in search of new sounds for "the kids" could play like a novelty, Macha’s sublime integration of parallel worlds is sly and their wandering ways bring us all a little closer.


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