Taking time out from their sacred quest to use the spirit-raising powers of Javanese gamelan to subvert the western rock precepts of rhythm and melody, Athens provocateurs Macha are pausing to pay homage to their fallen comrades, Bedhead.
Apart from a shared trance-inducing potential, Bedhead's densely layered drone pop doesn't have much in common stylistically with the mystical Macha sonic swirl, yet there's always been a solid bond between the groups. It's a brother thing.
When Macha's Josh and Mischo McKay heard that their Texas high-school pals Matt and Bubba Kadane were putting Bedhead to sleep, they wanted to pay their final respects in the studio.
So Bedhead recorded the drums and guitar parts for six songs and mailed them to the brothers McKay, who got out the hammered dulcimers, zithers and metallophone and, well, Macha-ized the tracks.
The uniformly sombre Macha Loved Bedhead Loved Macha EP (Jetset) might be disappointing for anyone expecting the shifting thrills of a typical Macha mash-up. However, thanks to Macha's textural tweaking, Bedhead never sounded so good. It's the least Macha could do after being bequeathed Bedhead's reliable old tour van, Dwayne.
"We had no idea what to expect from Bedhead," claims Josh McKay from a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. "The whole challenge of building on whatever arrived in the mail was very exciting.
"It was much more minimal than typical Bedhead music. Instead of the changing chord progressions common in Bedhead's songs, the patterns were stripped down and cyclical, which made them seem more like Macha. So we tried to draw out the good influence of Bedhead in what we did.
"The song Hey Goodbye was originally a lot faster and didn't sound Bedheady at all. That was the only instance where we re-recorded a rhythm track they sent us. We slowed it down and fleshed things out a bit. It's kind of funny that of all the songs we worked on, that one ended up sounding the most like Bedhead."
On the off chance Macha chooses to concentrate on recreating the quiet melancholia of the Bedhead requiem for their show with Calexico Sunday (June 4), the Horseshoe bar would be well advised to rent an espresso machine for the night. According to Josh McKay, the Macha set list changes to suit the members' mood swings.
Snooze alarm "We've got enough songs in our repertoire that we can have a slow night or come out really driving. A lot depends on the town -- how the day is going and the audience.
"In Athens and Atlanta we stuck to the Bedhead songs, and it felt great for us because it was so different from our usual shows. Instead of the peaks and cool-downs, playing the songs from the new EP was like the final trance -- the one you never pull out of."
MACHA, opening for CALEXICO, at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Sunday (June 4). $10. 598-4753.