With a title referring to Subcommandante Marcos’ vision of a grassroots Zapatista uprising from out of the jungles of Chiapas â€“ what Marcos himself called â€śpockets of resistanceâ€ť â€“ this suite of experimental pieces from Brandon Valdivia (Not the Wind Not the Flag, Picastro, Pachamama) draws on a variety of global and Western song forms. Â Over seven tracks, the traditional and popular styles of Colombia, Africa and Indonesia are juxtaposed with American free jazz, psychedelia and post-industrial noise. It’s a stirring concoction of sound from beginning to end, as Valdivia is a master sonic craftsman. This may be his debut solo outing, but he’s no amateur.
The two most abstract pieces bookend this cassette. â€śAs Long as Grass Grows and Water Runsâ€ť is a shimmering miasma of unnatural percussion, while â€śExiled From Presenceâ€ť features layers of feedback-riddled thumb piano. â€śCumbia Del Solâ€ť drifts along a South American river bubbling with subtle electronics, while â€śFind Each Otherâ€ť visits a loft in New York City’s free jazz heyday. Both â€śLa Venas Abiertasâ€ť â€“ which refers to the book exposing the exploitation of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano â€“ and the title track feature lively flute improvisations overtop a propelling percussive beat. The expansive â€śMakes Choicesâ€ť is quite possibly the most haunting piece featured, its treated percussion sailing on a ghostly breeze of drone.
Mas Aya, the name Valdivia chose for his solo work, is a sort of play on words. Masaya is the Nicaraguan town in which his grandmother was born, but in Spanish ‘mas allĂˇ’ means ‘the beyond.’ In a sense, Mas Aya is the perfect moniker for Valdivia’s work both solo and in Not the Wind Not the Flag. Here’s a percussionist who stretches his music beyond what could end up merely being an imitation of his influences. His own personal experiences and interests are injected into the mix to craft a singular vision, one that is an uncanny blend of the familiar and the esoteric. His is a true psychedelia â€“ a consciousness-expanding brew of sound.