Traditionally, when rock musicians have looked eastward for inspiration, it has been in an effort to tap into the deep spirituality seemingly inherent in musics of Eastern cultures. Inevitably, the resulting hybrids skirt the line between appropriation and inspiration and run the risk of coming off as turgid or contrived. On its second album, See It Another Way, the Athens, GA band Macha navigates that danger with ease, and the result is an album deep in soul-searing songs and astounding musical evocation that, indeed, hits on a tangible mysticism, whether it means to or not. The East to which Macha looks is Indonesia and comes by way of traditional gamelan instruments such as Sumatran gongs and Javanese zither, which instead of drums, bass, or keyboards (also present in the music) act as the driving force of the songs. And that is perhaps the most "rock" aspect of See It Another Way: though the music is perhaps slightly more to the gamelan side of the fence, it has the forceful propulsion of rock music, which gives the album a sense of immediacy. Macha aren't only using odd Eastern instruments, they are using odd Western ones (at least in a rock context), too, such as hammer dulcimer, wind chimes, and vibraphone, so to label it rock is more a marketing strategy than anything else. No matter what you want to call it, the music is inspired, deeply felt, and endlessly vivid without losing an ounce of accessibility. It might be expected that music that draws so heavily on Indonesian music would be exotic, but Macha's music is surprisingly sexy too, especially on cuts such as "Salty" (which would not have sounded out of place on U2's Achtung Baby had that band been similarly inspired by the East). But Macha doesn't let foreign-ness and feeling alone dominate the music; the band has also written powerful, gorgeous melodies that insinuate their way into your head, often without the aid of a vocal hook. Songs such as "Until Your Temples Are Pounding" and "The Nipple-Gong" are dark, enigmatic, and transcendent, like the East and its people are to Western eyes, and the album as a whole is so shimmeringly evocative that it is entirely intoxicating. Each album from Macha raises anticipation for the next.
|Label:||Jet Set Records|