The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

Mez­cla M.A.K.U. Soundsys­tem Glit­ter­beat/Planet With salsa and sass, apho­risms and mantras, and abun­dant en­ergy, M.A.K.U. Soundsys­tem comes across as an Amer­i­can coun­ter­part of Aus­tralia’s favourite party an­i­mals, the Cat Em­pire, or the New York equiv­a­lent of LA’s Ozomatli. Manned by a band of im­mi­grants who gorge on live gig­ging, this raw-edged octet rocks and rolls to the mes­meris­ing me­tre of tra­di­tional AfroColom­bian rhythms such as cumbia, gar­nished by jazz-fu­elled horns and sauteed with street­wise hip hop and punk. Mez­cla is a fre­netic fi­esta of an al­bum that bops till it drops. That’s prob­a­bly why the waltz that winds up the party sounds so sweet. De Bar­rio’s slower tempo al­lows the band’s lead singer to in­ject some warmth, a qual­ity that’s lack­ing in the hus­tle and bus­tle of the pre­ced­ing tracks. M.A.K.U. Soundsys­tem’s well-in­ten­tioned in­can­ta­tions — “let the mu­sic take you”, “we’ve got to take care of each other” and “keep your head up” — tend to be sub­ju­gated by the com­bi­na­tion of bois­ter­ous brass, ebul­lient elec­tron­ica and gen­eral row­di­ness. Densely packed romps such as Agua and What Do You Wish For? might con­tain per­ti­nent po­lit­i­cal com­men­taries, but they’re hard to ab­sorb over the Afrobeat-driven may­hem. Mind you, when high-regis­ter trum­pet lets rip over clat­ter­ing per­cus­sion — cow­bells et al — in Let It Go, it’s hard to defy the song’s sen­ti­ments. And it’s im­pos­si­ble not to be ex­cited when a squeaky so­pranino sax solo soars in La Haitiana. By the time corny Casio-like key­board com­petes with mel­liflu­ous horn stabs and sal­saesque vo­cal lines in the well-named and ul­tra­catchy Happy Hour, all re­sis­tance is fu­tile any­way.

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