Doing its very best to not be pigeon-holed, Santaka’s debut release, No Rivers Here, is (very) basically a jazz record. It’s the skills-on-the-skins of in-demand tour and session drummer, Marijus Aleska, that drive everything here. Teamed with technology, provided by highly-respected DJ / producer Manfredas, the music they make together is inspired by seminal `70s fusion sides by Don Cherry, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock. This, however, might not be immediately evident, since the opening title-track is a 17 / 18 minute epic. A deep machine-modulated exploration of inner space – head-nodding, head-cleaning, hypnotic techno temple gear. The synths in synergy with a slow, distorted, detuned, timpani. Tingsha ringing. Skittering sonics skirting with a shamanic intensity (although they subside before becoming too scary). The only giveaway is its cool computerized contrabass strut.
Jamaican dub is another obvious influence. 555 is a deadly dubwise excursion. An echoic emission, where serious syncopation is snapped out on the snares, while bongos and congas bring a grounation / nyabinghi bent. The whispered vocals made me think of Damo Suzuki and Can, and the overall results are like Red Snapper radically remixed, put through The Sabres Of Paradise’s musical meat-grinder (there are no clips on-line but try to remember what they did to Utah Saints). The gifted could no doubt dance to it, but for the less fleet of foot it’s probably best enjoyed sitting back with a bifter. Acid? Yeah, it’d no doubt sound pretty amazing if you were tripping.
Opening Chasms closes proceedings with a whopping Jah Wobble-esque b-line, tabla, and low saxophone drone. Organically flowing through four seamlessly segued parts, reeds alternately rasp and roar over rapidly rippling hand-drum rhythms. The groove sugared with six-string feedback and SFX from Joe Meek’s visions of a New World. Operating in a universe parallel to other forward thinking folks like Edrix Puzzle, and tapping into some edgy, early `80s, New York Lower East Side jive, it’s like Jean-Michel Basquiat`s Gray, John Lurie`s Lounge Lizards, Bill Laswell, Kip Hanrahan, running some noir New Orleans voodoo down.
Santaka’s No Rivers Here is released this Friday, December 9th, on the brilliant Byrd Out.