Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

HHY & The Macumbas: Beheaded Totem

James Fleming By

Sign in to view read count
Lurking somewhere between Sun Ra's Arkestra and the Chemical Brothers is Beheaded Totem's jarring, rocky soundscape. Every turn seems to loop back on itself in a never-ending cycle of music. The wide expanses of the synth and percussion combo create a sense of openness and space. Of a plain of sound where the horizons stretch out in both directions. And the brass, more concentrated and precise, mirror the sunbeams that blister the ground. Their spare riffs colour the sound with flaming hues of orange and yellow.

The hi-hat groove of "Wilderness Of Glass" puts teeth in its jaws. Broken glass fangs that sharpen the edges. While the hand-drums' circular rhythm is an earthy contrast to that bite. A grounded, tribal beat. That keeps the dirt between the track's toes. Even as the trumpets echo and the synths whirl like the milky way.

As the industrial-strength beat of closing-track "Swisid Mekasine Rejiman" evokes images of deep mine shafts, the electronics float ghostly atop the rhythm. And the processed trumpet cuts the thicket of sound like a comet through the cosmos. The comic-prophet Bill Hicks said that space "both inner and outer" was humanity's to explore. On records such as this the first reconnaissance teams move into those territories. To map out their mysteries.

The Kubrick-esque synths of "A Scar In The Skull" are percussion-less. Nebulous and spaced-out. Reminiscent of Wendy Carlos' soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange. But on "A Scar In The Bone" the synthesisers are stormy. Like a flood of radio static. Towards its end their pulsations intensify until they suddenly give way to the aforementioned "Swisid Mekasine Rejiman." A shocking, off-kilter shift. That curves one last bullet before the record moves towards its close.

Between the album's bookends, "Danbala Propaganda" moves to a fractured rhythm. A single synth-note pulses in the background. That lures in the unwary with its hypnotic, mechanical exactness. Before the higher electronics rise out of the percussion's waters. Dragging the tension up as they ascend to the stratosphere.

Rhythm is the central idea here. It's the common thread running through the tapestry. In lieu of melodic themes, HHY & The Macumbas have used rhythmic motifs. And those possibilities are explored to their fullest potential on "Ergot Glitter." It moves like Frankenstein's monster on a skewed 3/4 beat. Powerful, slow, menacing. With reaching hands and a synth-growl at the back of its throat.

This is a unique record. Where technology meets tradition. It moves constantly in a hypnotic loop. But just as the sandman is descending it fires one of those curved bullets. Bullets that never miss their mark. HHY & The Macumbas have dared to meld disparate influences in an increasingly divided planet. As the free world's leaders try to isolate it from its brother-lands, HHY & The Macumbas seek to unite all cultures. So that those spaces, "both inner and outer," can be explored as one, universal race.

Track Listing: Wilderness Of Glass; A Scar In The Skull; Danbala Propaganda; Deep Sleep Routine; Ergot Glitter; A Scar In The Bone; Swisid Mekazine Rejiman.

Personnel: Jonathan Uliel Saldanha: composer/conductor; João Pais: percussion; Filipe Silva: percussion; Frankão: percussion; Brendan Hemsworth: percussion; Álvaro Almeida: horns; André Rocha: horns; Rui Fernandes: horns.

Title: Beheaded Totem | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: House Of Mythology

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read In Between the Tumbling a Stillness Album Reviews
In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
By Karl Ackermann
February 20, 2019
Read Gary Album Reviews
Gary
By Dan McClenaghan
February 20, 2019
Read Perception Album Reviews
Perception
By Paul Rauch
February 20, 2019
Read I Love the Rhythm in a Riff Album Reviews
I Love the Rhythm in a Riff
By Mackenzie Horne
February 20, 2019
Read Head First Album Reviews
Head First
By Roger Farbey
February 20, 2019
Read New American Songbooks, Volume 2 Album Reviews
New American Songbooks, Volume 2
By Karl Ackermann
February 19, 2019
Read Live At JazzCase Album Reviews
Live At JazzCase
By Troy Dostert
February 19, 2019