Album Review: M.A.K.U. Soundsystem – Mezcla [Glitterbeat Records, 27th May 2016]

MAKU Sound System – Mezcla (2400)
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When we think of music from the heart, of unified voices that sing from the spirit, of souls in search of their roots and identity, we think of M.A.K.U. Soundsystem. “We’re that mixture, inescapable mixture” the group rightfully claims. With vibrating grooves and frantic afro-beats, the indigenous life experiences of the eight personalities that make up the band are available for us all to hear on their fourth release. Freedom, pleasure, affection, survival, confidence, resentment and enthusiasm are some of the many themes that can be attributed to Mezcla as well as to the group as a whole.

Founded in 2010, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem has developed its style organically. In fact, Mezcla has evolved from a near two-year process of experimenting in rehearsals, at gigs, and in the studio until finally getting their desired sound, with its musical style having evolved from genres such as folklore, punk, funk, rock, roots, and jazz. In this new album, all of the band’s members; Liliana Conde (lead vocals & percussions), Juan Ospina (vocals & bass), Camilo Rodriguez (guitar, gaitas & vocals), Robert Stringer (trombone), Felipe Quiroz (synthesisers), Moris Cañate (percussion & vocals), Andres Jimenez (drums & vocals), Isaiah Richardson Jr. (sax & clarinet), and guest artist Carolina Olivieros (vocals), have deliberately looked to their personal experiences of immigration for inspiration.

As immigrant urban musicians based in New York, M.A.K.U. (an acronym associated with the lower classes) have opted for freedom, with no schemes and no definite parameters. This open-minded attitude has allowed them to play deeply emotional music, and to express their debt and gratitude with the album’s Colombian roots.

Mezcla is a 9-track CD, where songs such as ‘Agua’, ‘Thank You, Thank You’, ‘La Inevitable’, or ‘What Do You Wish For’ certainly offers a new understanding and outlook on life. Mezcla is, above all, a metaphor for the immigrants living in New York city, and acts as a synonym for human nature. The political message of their lyrics gives the listener cause for reflection, but, at the same time, the music offers a chance to dance to the fiery rhythms of M.A.K.U.’s grooves. The emphasis on race, mixture, and the complexity of their experiences makes variety the unifying element of ‘Mezcla’.




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