M Takara com Chankas e Jon
razilian percussionists have a long history of delving into experimentation, from Naná Vasconcelos and Cyro Baptista to Dom Um Romão, each have used the drum to explore sound via their own recordings or with like-minded musicians. Paulista, Mauricio Takara carries on this fine tradition and presents us with his second solo album in all its glorious abstraction.
Primarily the drummer for premier Brazilian post-rock band Hurtmold, Takara makes up an integral part of the São Paulo improv underground, a scene that revolves round a gang of individualistic and radical players; ethereal guitar player Miguel Barella, mad professor Paulo Beto, and Chicago undergroundist Rob Mazurek, as well as avant-jazz-rock groups like Space Invaders and Cidadão Instigado.
Takara’s first album in 2003 was a wonderfully understated Casio-tinged dubby affair that was picked up on by a few people and, now, on this follow-up he dives in fully embracing jazz, electronics, and glitchy noise.
The Chankas and Jon referred to in the title are Fernando Cappi, guitarist from Hurtmold, and the North American artist Jonathan Gall, who also designed the enigmatic cover. In fact the vague patterns cut into paper on the minimalist digipack cover give little clue to what lies beneath, and, as in his first album, there are no track titles, just numbers, leaving the listener to conjure up their own images and ideas as to what these complex compositions are about.
The album kicks off like a swinging This Heat, after a rumbling, clicking intro a snare driven drum pattern dominates while guitar and trumpet lay textures down. Track six plays out as a kind of freeform be-bop with ghostly chatter in the background, giving it an unearthly feeling. As it draws to an end, the sound disintegrates as if a dilapidated tape head is mangling the reel, leading straight into track seven, where percussion and marimbas play ethnic systems music matched with the sound of reverbed gases being released at high pressure. Track nine contains what sounds like a lo-fi recording of the master musicians of Jajouka, which has been increasingly scuffed up over time.
Throughout the album, sounds catch the ear like fireworks out of the corner of your eye, the whirrs and clicks create images of homemade clockwork toys with strange distorted faces; the sonic equivalent of a Jan Svankmajer animation. However, it doesn’t really do the album justice to pick out individual tracks; it needs to be listened to as a whole, as most tracks bleed into each other like tiny cogs in an intricate and detailed timepiece.
If you’re outside of Brazil, which you probably are, it may take some looking around but M Takara com Chankas e Jon is well worth hunting down from a specialist store or mail order because this is an altogether stunning forty-two minutes of playful, yet accessible experimentation.
Reviewed by: Andy Cumming
Reviewed on: 2005-09-16