Mahjongg

Wed March 10

Meow Meow

320 SE 2nd

One of the things going on with Mahjongg: they are a rhythm-based punk band in the loosest terms possible, that sounds as though they actually listen to music outside the '70s Anglo dancepunk proles. This is not to say they don't hurl nasty disco-guitars like A Certain Ratio and Josef K armed w/razorblade frisbees now and again, but that when they do so, it ain't no matter of convention. It's purely part of the polyrhythm. For this band, melody is secondary--it's all about making rivets with the gutter funk. And, the main interest they share with the '70s Anglo dancepunk proles: political agenda. Where they swipe Afrobeats here and there, so too they drop names like Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Prize-winning abolitionist/civil rights leader. Other times, shit goes almost Free Design on our brainwaves--layers, synth interpreted as flutes, tingly. And you know what? They are not afraid of the cowbell. That is just, like, so pleasing.

Mahjongg rhythms and P'funkin' jams cut deep. Deep like a river. Deep like the phrase "Turf War (on a Global Scale)," and deep like the epic, New World Order surf-rumble song that phrase titles. Mahjongg cuts deep like the tap-dancer that is, on occasion, their percussionist. The silhouettes of tribal funk lace their music, like gazelle shadows on the Sahara.

Is this band of rhythm hellions hopping trains, partaking in the furrowed delta of the universe and channeling heat from its center like so many magic magicians? I do not know. With members in Columbia, MO and our own Portland, OR, they stayed in their current base of Chicago long enough to record the Machinegong EP for Cold Crush. When they came through last time (including cool tap-dancer, whose shoes were miked), I bought their wolf-themed dance remix album, which was perhaps the first locked-groove CD-R ever created, in that it was probably 45 minutes to an hour of looped rhythms with vague denouement. It was curious, and in retrospect not my fave, because Machinegong is so clearly on a higher level of composition and idea-realizing (though the ninth-generation Xerox aesthetic of the cover art is, happily, carried over on this "official" label release). Mahjongg, the band, turns all their live shows into a swamp, so get up on it like an animal.