Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., April 14, 2000
MacacadaThe house band for Austin's popular Brazilian Carnaval, Sambaxé puts their best studio foot forward with the 13 rhythmic cuts of Macacada. In their quest to spread the gospel of samba -- the Brazilian dance of African origin -- this local 10-piece ensemble used to pack the Ritz at its weekly gig, but since folks danced more than drank, the club ended the engagement. Macacada, which means "monkey business," doesn't quite capture the energy of their live shows, but it's still true to the band. Sambaxé aims to sambafy other related rhythms like Colombian cumbias, Dominican merengues, Mardi Gras mambos, and other beats from the Caribbean and South and Central America. "Tem Dendê" begins almost like an Indian Bollywood soundtrack, but quickly locks into a Zap Mama-meets-Odolum fever shuffle, and opener "Fogo dos Ancestres" comes out of the gates with expansive beats. Yet there are a few not-quite-finished spots, such as the buried cowbell in "Patuscada de Gandhi," and Carlinhos Brown's standard "Magalenha," which is done with necessary respect, but without reaching its potential. Most of the "Mardi Gras Medley" ("Iko Iko/Not Fade Away/ Magic Bus") is more fun than impressive; still, Sambaxé is light years ahead of Deadhead drum circle fuzziness, consistently producing organized, complex, and wallop-packing beats, both live and in the studio. Hopefully, Macacada will prompt a forward-thinking venue to give Sambaxé another chance to set up their samba shop.