Well that was interesting. I had to check I was listening to the right thing, so much has the sound of Maquinas changed since last I heard them on 2016’s Lado Turvo, Lugares Inquietos. The band did release a collaboration with Eric Barbosa in 2018, which I suspect may be the missing link between the Maquinas who were, and the Maquinas who are. I will definitely be investigating that! But first things first. To give an idea of how much of a surprise O Cão de Toda Noite was for me, let me first go back to the band’s debut album (as far as I’m aware).
Lado Turvo, Lugar Inquitos was an incredibly atmospheric and minimalist affair, largely putting shoegaze and dream pop sounds into a post-rock structure, that was almost ambient. In fact, if ambient music is meant to be played in the background, then this album did fit the bill for me. I thoroughly enjoy it, but I prefer to listen to it passively, rather than actively. Every artist has the possibility to stretch their aesthetic varieties and sound possibilities, regardless of the original scope. Maquinas have done so in style!
The sound of glass breaking in the first seconds of Maus Hábitos, the opening track of O Cão de Toda Noite, gives as clear indication as any that this is a different beast entirely to the previous album, and of the complete unpredictability that marks it. The band have almost completely abandoned the influences of dream pop, and although there is still a touch of post-rock, what is more apparent are the elements of math rock and free jazz. The vibrant and vivid musical experimentation and moments of pure delirium can’t help but make me make wonder if the change in cover art from the black and white of the previous album to colour for this new release is a deliberate metaphor for the added colour in the music.
One such added colour is the saxophone, played by Gabriel de Sousa, which is probably my favourite of the innovations to the Maquinas sound. It plays an integral part in the first two numbers, before the third track seems to take us back to the atmospheres of the previous album.
But, as much as I love the sax (and I LOVE the sax), I think my absolute favourite aspect of this album is the drumming and percussion of Ricardo Lins. I actually had to check the credits, as I thought Maquinas must have changed drummers, so different do they sound between albums. It reminded me of Helium Horse Fly, where I found similarly that the greatest difference between last year’s Hollowed and the previous album was the drumming. Without meaning to dismiss or demean the previous drummer, the new man on the HHF seat, Gil Chevigne, is next level. He brought a jazzy feel to HHF that had not existed previously. To my surprise, there was no new drummer for Maquinas, just Ricardo Lins showing us just how good a jazz drummer he is.
And if this is jazz, it is more often than not jazz noir, for if there is an atmosphere to O Cão de Toda Noite, it is not the dream pop and post-rock atmospheres of the previous album, but rather the warped fascinations of David Lynch, as presented by his musical collaborator Angelo Badalamenti. Everything is deliciously uncertain and chaotic. Each track seems to go in a different direction from the last. Such versatility and variety could easily create a confusing and conflicted listen, but while Maquinas can be an uneasy listen, it is pleasantly so and the whole is remarkably consistent. (Again, you could make the comparison with Lynch, who creates films that can be uneasy and jarring, but which, in spite of this, still make a certain degree of sense, and are enjoyable.)
Within the internal conflicts of this album, the almost nine-minute O Silêncio É Vermelho does seem to act as an exercise in transition between the material delivered on the previous album and on this. It would, for that reason, have been a logical choice for an opening track, but I like that this album isn’t at all bothered by logic. O Silêncio gently introduces the changes in small doses, only gradually bringing the listener into the more varied improvisations and experimentations of O Cão de Toda Noite. I definitely prefer the way Maus Hábitos almost brutally crashes its way into being, giving the listener no warning that things are different.
I love the suspense of Sintomas, largely wrought by the interplay of sax and theremin. I love the harmony of sounds of Meia Memória, which follows. I love the way the furious collaboration with Bruno Baptista, Prepare-se Para o Pior, is brilliantly bonkers but leads into one of the most serene numbers on the album, Melindrome. And you couldn’t have a more perfect closing number than Nuvem Preta, with the group bringing together almost all that has appeared before into a single song.
Maquinas have reinvented themselves, and the result is amazing. As much as I like their dream pop debut, I prefer the sinister and threatening nightmares of O Cão de Toda Noite. I suspect that had they carried on with their original sound, there would have been far greater chance of success and recognition. This new sound will likely attract fewer followers, but anyone who does appreciate music that requires more than passive listening should enjoy this. It’s a musical labyrinth that I will willingly find myself in, again and again. So, in the nicest possible way, get lost!
01. Mass Hábitos (6:22)
02. Corpo Frágil (7:25)
03. O Silêncio É Vermelho (8:33)
04. Sintomas (4:40)
05. Meia Memória (7:06)
06. Prepare-se Para o Pior (5:30)
07. Melindrone (2:08)
08. Nuvem Preta (8:05)
Total Time – 49:49
Allan Dias – Bass, Vocals
Roberto Borges – Guitar, Synth, Vocals
Yuri Costa – Guitar, Synth, Vocals
Gabriel de Sousa – Alto Saxophone, Samples
Ricardo Lins – Drums, Percussion
Clau Aniz – Clarinet, Additional Vocals (track 3)
Ayla Lemos – Additional Vocals (track 2)
Felipe Couto – Drum Machine (track 3)
Eros Augustus – Piano (tracks 2,3 & 5)
Breno Baptista – Vocals (track 6)
Y.A.O. – Theremin (track 4)
Record Label: Múcurio Música
Country of Origin: Brazil
Date of Release: 4th October 2019