Macha is one of those bands that you wonder how and why they became what they did when they did. They seem oddly out of place; one of those musical mutations that results in a band that is either really, really good or really, really bad. Fortunately, Macha is the former. The three-piece from Athens (apparently four nowadays) blends a mesmerizing swirl of pounding drums, serpentine vibraphones, enveloping guitar, silky organ riffs and a wealth of other primarily percussion instruments into a thoroughly unique combination.
There’s an Asian feel to some of the rhythms here, picked up no doubt from trips to Indonesia by two of the band members to soak in the music directly from the people that produce it. A limited number of Macha discs even include a second CD full of recordings of music and singing from Sumatra, Bali, and Java. Much of Macha’s music is soothing and instrumental, although Josh McKay provides soft, cooing vocals on parts of several of the tracks. That’s not to say that Macha comes across like Low or Mojave 3. They tend to function more like those half-dreams between hits of the snooze bar: just when you start to get mesmerized, along comes a jarring dose of reality.
The first song, “when they first saw the floating world,” sets the tone for the album with its Disney-esque intro that melds into an unbelievable catchy zither riff. “cat wants to be a dog,” “double life,” and “capital city,” in particular, pick up on similar atmospheric moods, to great success.
For a debut album, Macha is wonderfully rich and layered. It is the perfect showcase for a band that weaves its many striking instrumental nuances into a sound that is quite different from what you’ll hear from nearly anyone else. Jetset Records, 67 Vestry St. #5C, New York, NY 10013; http://www.sinner.com/jetset