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Music for beheadings and decapitations

HHY & The Macumbas don’t have an easy name to pronounce, let alone to keep in mind. Neither in Portuguese nor in English. It’s an odd name and so is their music. Thankfully, after all we are just fed up with civilized, white-collar music, which serves as the soundtrack to some mindless drinking session. In fact, if there is something that gives to music that street-infested feeling, where something is always about to boil up, then that thing is rawness. And there is plenty of rawness in HHY & the Macumbas. Real music is not afraid to get its hands dirty, to manifest itself ideologically, to experiment and, above all, to free itself from genre limitations. And, notwithstanding Godspeed You! Black Emperor or John Zorn’s ground-breaking efforts when it comes to propel potato-couch music, there is still barren land to germinate. At least, they have reminded us that music is also about miscegenation, something the purists know as bastardization.

And, if it were not for the danger of being misread, I would say HHY & The Macumbas are straight up bastards, because they don’t give a damn about what fits into one genre and what serves another right. To begin with, they have totally freed themselves from style biases and to say that they fuse genres is a strong understatement, since an esoteric orgy would be the most appropriate term. With HHY & The Macumbas, borders are indeed a man’s idealization, because these guys go to any places they want. And by all places we mean puffing some Jamaican dub, pouring an energy drink with experimental electronics or rip some hypnotic chords from acid rock. Figuratively speaking, obviously, at least as far as we know.

For those whose notion of music is the present-day neat-and-tidy well-crafted chords put on some domesticated rhythm section so that you can tap your feet to it, then forget about it, since these lads enjoy to drag the listener, without commiseration nor pity, through little-explored lands, without the slightest warning. If they appreciated some company, we could throw Sun Ra into the mix, but truth be told Sun Ra is basically the go-to-reference for UFOs like this one, which everyone uses when there is nothing else around. The Thing would probably be closer to HHY & The Macumbas, but, much more than musical, this is a film and literary band in their influences. And conceived for the stage, where the leader Jonathan Uliel Saldanha conducts a changeable formation that can be either a quintet or a dectet. Jonathan who is part of the SOOPA music collective, having collaborated with José Cid or Adolfo Luxúria Canibal, and also part of the label Silo Rumor, where HHY & The Macumbas released their first full-length album: Throat Permission Cut, a title that reveals much of what can be expected from the album.

Also during the month of September, the new Beheaded Totem will come out – with a name that actually rivals with its predecessor – this time through House of Mythology, the label responsible for stuff as crazy as them, if not more, like Ulver and Zu. Frying the mind is what one needs.

Hugo Filipe Lopes writes sometimes under cover, other times out of the closet. Some days he’s a copy, in the others he is an author and, in the others, still, he manages to be both. He likes to write more about the things he loves or about things he doesn’t have a clue. If no one asks him to write, he does nevertheless, in the black diary he carries anywhere. He writes because he doesn’t know how to draw and because it’s cheaper than making movies or taking pictures and also because it’s easier. But sometimes, though, this is the hardest thing in the world.

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