Friday, July 07, 2000
After discovering the very endearing Bedhead Loved Macha split ep by the two said bands, I chanced upon this review by Pitchfork's, um, enigmatic Brent DiCrescenzo. It's the funniest review I've read in ages, though I suspect that I'm laughing at him as much as with him. A mathematics teacher instructs eager students on how to review records using a parabola formula, but a spanner is thrown in the works when a student finds an old review by Brent Dicrescenzo on the Bedhead Loved Macha ep which confounds the formula. It's the most preposterous and silly basis for a review that I can think of, but it's just about saved by the reverent awe that greets the student when he mentions that the review is by Brent. Unsurprisingly, very little is revealed about the music itself, but I hardly care. I mean, no-one goes to Pitchfork to actually find out about music, do they?

My thoughts on the ep? It's pretty excellent, really - if more US indie was as good as this I'd be seriously hopping on the Westernholmes/Signal Drench/Us vs Them bandwagon. It's also a testament to the fact that the communal focus of indie, where pat-on-the-back compilations and split singles are the norm, can actually be more than just smug self-congratulation and produce something greater than the sum of its parts.

I've only heard dribs and drabs of Bedhead's backcatalogue, and I'd never even heard of Macha before, but the skeletons of the songs (provided by Bedhead) sound a bit rougher and more, well, skeletal than usual for Bedhead. Which would be somewhat pointless (Bedhead's magic lies in their seamless ebb and flow) if the spaces weren't filled so brilliantly by Macha's celestial noisescapes and gamelan arrangements. The use of gamelan, which seems to be Macha's general modus operandi, is more restrained than I imagine it to be on Macha's own albums, but the background tickles provide just the right amount of otherwordly magic required to lift these songs from the realms of "great indie tunes" to a level of haunting disquietude. The only other indie/alternative group using music so inventively right now are The Beta Band, but the more straightfaced, straightforward approach taken here offers more hope that such inventiveness might eventually filter down to (paradox alert) mainstream indie.

As for the cover of Cher's "Believe", it's something that I'd usually disapprove of - the whole point of superficial pop songs are their burnished production, so why bother making a scratchy lo-fi version? However, the woozy, Sparklehorse-like arrangement and vocals matches the bittersweet victory of the original perfectly. And extra kudos for the makeshift emulation of the tricksy robotic vocals, which only adds to the sense that the singer's about to faint from hea(r)tstroke.


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