Mon Oct 4
10 SW 3rd
When your game is cohesion, you might be best suited to temper your variables. That's why "the kitchen sink" has had such a successful run as a qualifier to "everything." There are some things that just have no place in the soup. And when you're a band with as much seasoning as Macha, the balance can be very delicate.
Since sometime around 1996, the Athens, GA ensemble have hinged their band's very function on their apt assimilation of Eastern musics into the then-already stale formula of indierock--and in doing so, they spent a couple of solid years on the lips of every bored college radio programmer in America. Between 1998 and 1999, the band released two acclaimed records--their self-titled debut (which hit the top five in the college radio charts), and its follow-up See It Another Way (which spent three weeks at number one)--and became brief indie darlings. Macha's music was worldly, but they didn't play World Music--nor did they play some Graceland-ian, Western pop approximation of their Indonesian interests. Macha's strength was its ability to seamlessly meld the languid beauty of drone rock with the more disparate and reaching textures of traditionally Eastern percussion and strings in ways that never felt ham-fisted or tacked-on; the whole giant mess sounded totally cohesive. Macha were so subtle, in fact, that most people didn't know what to do with them--journalists typically resorting to long lists of the band's vast equipment (nipple gongs, zithers, and hammered dulcimers seem the most popular) in lieu of any tangible description.
Five years pass, and Macha finally return with a proper follow-up to their incredibly successful sophomore release--and they've brought their kitchen sink. See, in Forget Tomorrow, Macha latch on to the now-fleeting glow of the disco beat and the "angular" guitar--an unfortunate weight that comes terrifyingly close to tipping the scales of the band's necessary unity. I mean, Disco-Punk? Dudes, how disappointing.
Luckily, the fascination is fairly short-lived--their grasp of sonic integration saves the whole mess from sounding too pandering--but for those similarly placed bands in the indierock mythos, let this be a lesson to you: there's nothing more embarrassing than a rock band struggling to remain relevant.