These MasTicA Cedar Creek Sessions, almost an accident waiting to happen, were born of the fact that music can happen anytime, and the end result is often far from what was expected going in.
March 8-9, 2001 was originally a time to begin a second record of "songs and instrumental sculptures" ala their first effort, "Mastica 99." Somewhere in between finding sounds and basic tracks of a few new songs, there was a moment or twelve to "experiment" or "stretch out.
For these sessions, the three MasTicA's ( p@, gumB, munkE ) expanded to six to represent what had been happening in recent live performances. MasTicA LiVe is an ever changing thing, based on club size, the audience and who's available to sit in . MasTicA tends to have many different faces over time. So when a string of gigs with the same faces occurred they wanted to document this period of musical momentum.
Not all moments in the studio had all six of this lineup, some only a few. Brad Houser (Critters Buggin', Edie Brickell) crouched behind a sound baffle and a row of effects, disappearing and reappearing with just the right baritone sax squeaks and moans tweaked through a box or two. The darkness and cool comfort of Cedar Creek was more than once abruptly awakened by the "Wall of Drums" covering the entire north rock wall of the studio. (p@'s mix of acoustic and electric drums, supplemented by Branden Harper's (ambientmood.com) north African percussion toys.)
Arriving late and leaving early for another gig , Bruce Salmon (Alejandro Escovedo) added many textures and voice samples. All the while gumB looped and unlooped basses upright and electric fretless while munkE blew alto sax . Thanks to the steady hand of Bill Munyon (King Crimson, Butthole Surfers), they were able to capture many of these special moments direct to two- track. (Producer p@ always likes to keep the two-track rolling.)
In the end, due to lack of funds , they never finished the "proper songs," instead going almost exclusively to these two-track mixes to begin the search for moments.
In '02 MasTicA found time (during Crim breaks ) to "cut and paste" many of these moments together. Then gumB added some acoustic stuff, munkE some sax and voices, and their daughter Miabel added voices as well. These were added to the two-track mixes and more samurai editing was done as many special moments hit the digital cutting room floor, continuing the improv like approach throughout editing and kept the muse felling LIVE.
Somewhere in the middle of this, p@, gumB , Brad and Bill got together at "The Zone" in Dripping Springs These sessions echoed the feeling of the Cedar tracks and added impromptu moments which appear on tracks 3, 7 and 11.
Everyone mentioned here donated their time and skills to this project, and hope you enjoy this slice of Mastic Time, until the record they tried to start , "the songs and such" is completed. These moments suggest they made this one for the "Joy" of it, and the sounds here are from the heart of very creative beings. This is a great representation of the fun they have when given a chance to "MasTicAttacK".
"live shots" Austin Chronicle - David Lynch
Mastica - Empanada Parlour, June 13
Three's a good number for Mastica: The local outfit has three founding members; their set featured three guest musicians, they occupied one of Empanada Parlour's three stages; and during their 12-song, 90-minute set, it seemed like each member played three instruments. "Where are those chewy people?," asked the group's bassist/singer gumB., while cracking wise about the group's name, which is based on the ancient Greek word for chewing. This, after the former Stick People bassist nearly silenced the modest but loquacious crowd with his electro-cello, generating a melancholic phrase, sampling it, looping it, and ultimately adding two and sometimes three lines via more sampling/looping. Nice opener. The rest of the band, munkE (vox, guitar, alto sax), Branden Harper (drums), Bruce Salmon (samples, keyboards), and Brad Houser (reeds, bass, percussion) took the stage afterwards, kicking off with the swampy bass/ drum intro of "You," from the group's diamond-in-the-rough debut '99. Houser, Salmon, and Harper joined the wife-husband munkE / gumB team in part to substitute for founding Mastica percussionist (and King Crimson skin beater) Pat Mastelotto.
The Sixth Street Parlor's two indoor/one outdoor stage setup permits different vibes for different needs. Yet only one door, often left open, separates two simultaneous acts -- as on this night when Mastica's outdoor set was occasionally confused by the able jazz combo playing the cave-like downstairs stage. Mastica didn't mind, launching into a tune from their to-be-released second album, its lurching rhythm splashed with Salmon's sampled and manipulated laughing, munkE's sax squawks, and gumB's mortality-themed lyrics. Later MunKey took lead vox for '99's "Seven Marys," Houser augmenting the cut by playing large North African iron castanets across drum rhythms provided by Harper, who filled in well for Mastelotto.
A few selections later came a syncopated rendition of Daniel Johnston's "Never," then more new and '99 gems, including "7-teen" and closer "Idiot." Mastica's songs are accessible and weird, composed and improvised, and in spite of some self-indulgent meandering, the musicianship was first class, even if the set's execution came off a bit disorganized; with members working on other projects (New Bohemians, Alejandro Escovedo, Critters Buggin'), finding rehearsal time must be a bitch. While three has been their magic number, here's hoping locals don't have to wait until LP No. 3 to hear more Mastica. Chew on, you crazy diamonds.