M.A.K.U. Soundsystem is a bold, powerful group of musicians, mostly from Colombia, based in New York. Their new album Mezcla (reviewed right here) comes out Fri., May 27 on Glitterbeat Records. Listen to our premiere of “De Barrio,” a beautiful, slow-burning ballad which draws on currulao, a rhythm from the pacific coast of Colombia, and Motown soul:
“Andres, our drummer, wanted to tell the story of his step brother’s experience traveling from Guatemala to Texas by land,” a spokesperson for M.A.K.U. told us by email, “He brought the idea to the rest of the band and we developed the song together. The lyrics talk about the journey of an immigrant kid crossing the border through the desert, leaving a difficult situation, in search of survival into the unknown.”
The word mezcla, which means “mix” in Spanish, is a good point of entry into M.A.K.U.’s musical and cultural world. “On Mezcla we explore different musical influences ranging from traditional percussion from Colombia, to ’70s big-sounding dance records from the Caribbean and West Africa,” the spokesperson told us. “Lyrically, stories of migration and liberation are a common thread, intertwined with stories about love and our day-to-day realities.” As a group that calls their music immigrant beat, they are very connected to the cultural life of New York City’s immigrant communities. For example, check out the video for “El Jugo,” from their previous album. “We don’t think of immigrant beat as a specific genre of music but more of a larger concept that we draw inspiration from; the movement and travels of music across space and generations, the pulse that keeps people moving.”
Mezcla is the group’s first album to come out on a label, following up three excellent self-released albums, all highly recommended. “Having the support of more people working towards the same project only makes things better. We are really excited to be able to reach a larger audience,” said the band’s representative. Stay tuned for an album release show June 10 at Sunnyvale, in Brooklyn.
M.A.K.U. just released a powerful music video for another song, “La Inevitable,” from the new album, dedicated to the people and communities of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn. The video tackles the cultural aspects of gentrification, including the alienation that long-time residents of those neighborhoods–predominantly people of Caribbean origin and descent–often feel in the face of new, mostly young, white tenants and the predatory landlords and developers who drive the prices up and low-income tenants out. However, the closing scene seems to celebrate the possibilities of connection and human interaction that create community, despite the inevitable forces of gangster capitalism.
When asked if they consider their music to be political or resistance music, M.A.K.U.’s spokesperson responded: “Although we don’t necessarily think of a political cause whenever we get together to play music, we are not removed form our social and political context. Our music is personal and our stories, what we sing about, what affects us, reflects that context. if people perceive our music as resistance music, we are happy to inspire that, however, we feel music is such a powerful expression that it transcends politics, there is so much in our nature to get inspired by.”
Sounds about right to us!