Label: Greentrax Recordings - CDTRAX 113 • Format: CD Album • Country: UK • Genre: Folk, World, & Country •
MacUmba was a bit of a mystery to me. I didn't know what to expect. But when I slipped the disc into my stereo and the room filled with the boisterous pipes and percussion of "Moonshine" -- well, just wow.
I think you need some background information. MacUmba is a collection of 11 musicians who play either the pipes Highland, shuttle and war or a huge mound of percussion. While their melodies are drawn from the traditions of Scottish pipe bands, they dose their music heavily with Caribbean and Brazilian rhythms. Yes, it sounds implausible. Yes, it works -- really, really well. The merger has further evidence in the band's name.
As the members explain in the liner notes, "macumba" is a Brazilian religion combining Christian effigies with ritual drumming and gods from the Yoruba pantheon. In Scotland, "MacUmba" means "son of Umba. They added Good News - James Cleveland* Presents Marvin Jenkins And The Musettes - Jesus, Lover Of My Soul for a performance at a football match, and the result was incendiary.
After a pair of amazing pipe and percussion tracks "Moonshine" and "Mo Chuachag Laghach Thu"I was startled to hear a clear, beautiful singing voice. Heaven Scent - Mac Umba - Dont Hold Your Breath O'Neill, who also plays an array of percussion surdo, tamborm, agogo and chocalho has a gorgeous vocal style, and most of the percussionists provide backing vocals at one point or another. Her Heaven Scent - Mac Umba - Dont Hold Your Breath appearance is "The Selkie," a traditional Scottish song about the mystical seal people of the coast -- and somehow, the tribal vocal backdrop works.
There are also more excellent instrumentals, with pipes skirling proudly over powerful percussion. And it keeps going. Seventeen tracks in all, and not a single disappointment along the way.
Any pipe fans and percussion enthusiasts out there who haven't heard MacUmba are really missing something. Just wow. And the album didn't un"wow" me throughout its 17 exciting, energetic tracks.
It's a cultural blending I wouldn't have expected.
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