Ronda by Mako Sica & Hamid Drake

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Mako Sica & Hamid Drake
Ronda (Feeding Tube Records/Astral Spirits; 2xLP/CS/DL)

Released tomorrow on double vinyl (via Feeding Tube) and out now on cassette (via Astral Spirits) is the latest by duo Mako Sica & Hamid Drake (and co.), entitled Ronda. Consisting of five tracks running at just over an hour in total, this collaboration brings together two disparate players (jazz vs avant rock) into the same arena to recalculate the possibilities. The result is other worldly from the start of Dance With Waves which begins with a hum, sparse quietude and ready-to-go percussion. The pair had access to various instruments during their two sessions, and the sidewinder vibe here is somewhat Persian and/or Turkish. The pure fusion, in split moments, has a psychedelic outer coating, a bit out-of-body. They simultaneously hold nothing back and manage to keep their concoction contained/form-fitting. The sound morphs into a woozy dimestore silhouetted jazz, lost in a post apocalyptic rouse, then travels down a darkened alley and out the other side.

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ASTRAL FUSION: I’m reminded of LA Confidential, or some other type of 50s crime type drama in the after midnight, dim headlights of layered atmospheres, so smoky and behind-the-scenes. And that’s just for starters. On Emanation the moody fog builds, with the snake-charmer horn, light keys and distant toms speculating their next move. It’s like a stage play where any minute I’m expecting finger snaps and voracious dance moves (neither of which occur), but instead it stays dusty and low profile, making for a plot-building slick intensity. The volume builds and a voice is lightly woven into the slow separation of the mix. His words may not be fully understood, but just like the croon of any wind instrument, you can hear the passion, and an uncertain lurid desperation. There are vague similarities to some of Vangelis’ more fragile/bent moments on his Blade Runner score. They have caught its hollows, and added much of their own brewing twists.

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WORLD HARMONY: The percussion is so intensely sensitive and washes over you at times. Together they have built an incredible world of aural cinema. The Greatest Gift reminds me of the American South, with its lazy, hazy slump, not unlike a humid day on the bayou or out on the road in the blistering Sun. Its pacing speaks volumes, and shifts swiftly on a dime becoming a cross between a spaghetti Western and a surf song. In this sudden flair of rhythm all instruments come towards the center and break into a central fusion of complex improv. Instead of a muddled nowhere these veterans manage to smooth the lumps and bumps of head-on sonics in the split second moment with an unbridled panache. After this conquest of harmony, the grounded jazz is progressive, accompanied by a disembodied passing whistle. It’s a breathless piece.

GO DEEP: The Old Book is the shortest track at under six minutes, but continues on the previously elongated measures in a primary conversation between horn and drumkit. It flutters with added the jewel tones of organ, tight string echoes and distant lilting vocal. You are somehow transported to a desert, led down a sandy crevasse in Tunisia. It’s a magical hybrid of sounds, eventually clashing, fading. Though the finale, The Wu Wei, takes us elsewhere. It’s modish, it’s slippery, it’s ancient – yet timeless. The crooning, pining vocal undulates with stylish percussive-driven beat in what unfurls as a quasi, non-denominational sacred world music of sorts. It comes together, falls apart in resistant timbre, so elusive and trance-inducing. Skip the kush, and dive headlong into this space/time continuum meditation which takes a left turn into a strident funky beat in the final three minutes leaving deep listeners feeling warm all over as it fades to silence.

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