[sic] Magazine

Secret Drum Machine – Chuva

Incredible bio alert! Percussive Portland outfit Secret Drum Band are led by Lisa Schonberg and Allan Wilson of Explode Into Colors and !!! and their rhythmic work-out of a sophomore album, Chuva, draws its influence from insect sentience and ecological synesthesia, in which their music is purposefully intended to evoke senses other than the auditory, their drum patterns rendered a visual phenomenon via the images they conjure in your mind. Consequently, for pieces commissioned by the Oregon Plant Society for example, this translates to time spent observing the motion of floating organic matter near the shore in the Pacific Northwest, other soundscapes influenced by Schonberg’s parallel research project on ant acoustic communication with entomologists in Brazil. And, certainly, the complex percussive patterning on a track like “Terra Firme” does seem to provide meaning above the purely musical, throaty pulses and hissing rimshots are twinned with electronic interference and animal capture to deliver an odd tribal funk decorated with soothing chimes. It’s ironic too that when vocal contribution does come elsewhere it carries no semantic weight at all.

Add to this a genuinely great opening one-two and Chuva is never less than fascinating during its 45-minute run-time. Set against Portland’s violent fascist protests, the hypnotic “Antifa Fuschia” is full of frenetic cowbell, its deep groove going heavy on the motorik. An expose on the endangered Hawaiian Hylaeus bee, “Alaka‘i Swamp” is then a propulsive waggledance with an industrial edge, hissing pressure valves foreboding grinding synth drone. From this point forward, Chuva is a percussive playbook stomped out in the dust, hand-drums and the chirrup and rustle of insects on the forest floor a window to another world. The only significant deviation, “Riparia” blows in like a breath of fresh air through the canopy, minimal keys in support of the stuttering kit, rather melancholy but – like the album as a whole – no less mesmerising.

Best track: “Antifa Fuschia”

~Chuva is released July 24th 2020 via Moon Glyph.~

Moon Glyph · Secret Drum Band – Ka'ena Point