Mixed Media: Music
Visit Malphino by Malphino (Lex CD, LP and digital)
You can live in the damp and dream of the Tropics: this is the founding myth of Malphino and the band’s fantasy island of the same name. Malphino’s founders, DJ Yu Sato, tuba player David Aird and accordionist Alex Barrow, share a passion for Colombian cumbia and banda and Pacific cultures, and this album has a lightness of touch and weather system distant from the band’s east London home. Visit Malphino is a gentle, beguiling travel advert for Neverland, a place where the dancing never stops.
It’s hard to resist the vision. The original band augmented by percussion and organ, their music draws on the premise of exotica music – think of the tiki music of bandleader Martin Denny or the samba spectacular of Carmen Miranda, both from the 1950s. Some of Malphino’s members do have roots from the lands they draw their tools from, and the band certainly has a greater knowingness in how it utilizes its borrowings and ensuing creations than has perhaps been evinced by others in the past. Postmodern in its methodology and post-production in its method, electronic squeaks and squelches nudge the dance along in a pleasant-enough way.
Universalists by Yonatan Gat (tak:til, CD, LP and digital)
Making a fearsome noise on guitars and fuzzed feedback, comes Yonatan Gat, with a mission to unite the world in noise. Originally from Tel Aviv, although now based in New York, Gat has some form in his quest. His previous band, a post-punk trio named Monotonix, was so disruptive to the norms of the performer-audience relationship that they were banned from playing in Israel. Now, working under his own steam, Gat’s Universalists album travels world cultures to find common cause in rhythm and sonic storms.
It’s a mind-bending result, and while there’s a lot of volume here, there are also sections of quiet sensitivity. If you define the concept of ‘noise’ as sound out of place, as something intrusive (this is an extension of the anthropologist Mary Douglas’s definition of dirt as matter out of place), you then need to ask what is the ‘in place’ sound that it rubs against.
For Gat, alongside drummer Gal Lazer and bassist Sergio Sayeg, one answer lies in a questioning relationship to hierarchies. This is a process that’s implicit, but very much present nonetheless. Using field recordings of many different types of music – among them, an Italian choir from the 1950s, a Spanish harvest song, Balinese gamelan – and then splicing them into a mix structured around Gat’s slabs of guitar, a sense of an outside music is created, one that is vitally charged and communally relevant. On ‘Medicine’, probably the most rhythmically frenzied track, Gat is joined by the Eastern Medicine Singers, an Algonquin drum group from Rhode Island: the punk powwow produced is powerful.