When Joshua McKay visited Southeast Asia, he did exactly the opposite. So taken with the music of Bali, Java, and Sumatra, he traveled around with a pocket cassette recorder and immersed himself in the sounds of the gamelan percussion orchestras and the vibrant zithers, gongs, and chimes of the native music. Returning to America with a number of Indonesian instruments in tow, McKay formed Macha: a four-piece group that instantly stretched the boundaries of what rock and roll sounds like, creating a hybrid blend of emo, world music, soul, and punk that makes psychedelic use of sound, without a trace of trippy nostalgia or maudlin drug references.
With the endorsements of cred vampire Michael Stipe and neo-psychedelic musos Olivia Tremor Control, Macha--featuring McKay, his brother Mischo, and friends Kai Riedl and Wes Martin--have been crisscrossing the States in support of their debut album, Macha, and their upcoming release, See It Another Way. When they arrive at the Breakroom on July 21 for their Seattle debut, don't expect to see a wall of Marshall stacks or any other typical rock band paraphernalia. Macha pride themselves on recreating the expansive sound of their albums without the use of any backing tapes or samplers, touring instead with the myriad instruments they used in recording: hammer dulcimer, vibraphone, bells, and a wide array of drums and percussion. Over the top of a loose-limbed rhythm section, Macha heighten the atmosphere with a spellbinding array of sounds that contrast trance and tension. The glowing whisper of McKay's subtle vocal style adds to the sensory overload. Both sincere and sinister, his voice glides and courses though the band's vast aural landscape.
If you've been getting tired of seeing the endless parade of bands who stick to the standard guitar, bass, and drum pattern, check in with Macha on Wednesday night. Far more than an anthropological exercise, Macha will ignite your imagination. Plus, they're all babes. What can you lose?