Mahjongg MahjonggThe Long Shadow Of The Paper Tiger
Mahjongg is one of those bands that you get really psyched to be psyched about. One of those combos that bring the dead back to life when they step onstage at any festival that places its bets on proposals that are more or less strange, and more or less personal. Festivals welcome them all over the world, since they don’t seem to have a place in Chicago, their hometown (nor do they have a lot of pull there). One of those bands that makes the trite description “incendiary” something more than a journalistic tic. From the caverns of the underground, they have cooked up an infallible rotten dish that they themselves have called “chicagotronics”, a term somewhere between rickety and unprejudiced that they have pulled out of their sleeve (the sleeve of a shirt that shouldn’t even be worn at a wedding) to refer to that soothing, tribal sound that turns dancing into a means of cure and redemption. They do credit to this wherever they go, leaving people satisfied and exhausted: dance, dance and more letting it all hang out. It’s true that getting close to them is difficult and requires a noticeable cognitive effort. They don’t need luminaries on the other side, just guys like them, connected to their subconscious, with the deep cavern of our emotions and feelings: like walking on burning coals with the soles of your feet as your only protection.
Their music, especially performed live, pits you face to face with your fears. - the very same ones that you have to get to grips with one day if you want to make peace with yourself. They sharpen the spears of neo-primitivism once they have agreed on the minimum conditions with the devil. “Dance, dance, damned ones” seems to be the motto of their live show, which should be seen in the greatest number of places possible now that “The Long Shadow of the Paper Tiger” is hot off the presses, a real tour de force for those who already got stuck on “Kontpab” (the album that gave them the push that they needed to make a place for themselves in the hearts of a new legion of fans). This work takes them perhaps further away, if possible, from other parallel proposals that are somewhat more popular, like !!! or Out Hud, related to danceable post-punk. But they sound more personal and, therefore, less revisionist than the general treacle. That is to say: they aren’t on any chart, they have no place on fashionable dance floors (for the moment, although maybe after this album, maybe they will have a little more of a place, the ways of “hype” are mysterious).
Mahjongg’s formula is a mass of sound that is based on percussion and synthesisers that seem sharper than on other albums. The mortar is created from a burst made up of little splinters of sound that are layered on top of each other until they reach notes of kaleidoscopic paroxysm. On this album they have also opened the door to infinite collaborations on the mic that, thanks to the miracle of post-production, give a more than acceptable coherence to the whole. Beginning with this musical and vocal sudoku, they don’t hesitate to stroll around clothed only in a loincloth, through contemporary R&B, mindless post-punk with a social alibi, drum & bass on amphetamines (this is especially noticeable in the final rush of their song “Grooverider Free”), or the lately somewhat over-handled afro-pop; maybe the situation, the pull of other similar proposals has helped to make their group of followers bigger. Their songs also fit into the line of the protest song that will get on some people’s nerves, while it will give others the push necessary to get closer to them. Frenetic dance hasn’t been shaken up so much in a city that dances like Chicago does for a long time. It was about time. The dance of the damned is in da house. David Puente