Ten-piece band Batucada Sound Machine features members from all over the world, and together they’ve also travelled the globe, taking their impossible-not-to-dance-to beats to Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Germany and more. They’re renowned for their live performances, and most of their songs feature the kind of rousing beats and call-to-action basslines that force live audiences to restrain themselves from storming the stage and screaming “gimme a go on the mic!”
Opening song Drownin’ In It begins with dramatic horns and hip-shaking drums. Falling (Down, Down) follows up with guest singer Cherie Mathieson’s lingerie-smooth vocals teasing their way around the track. Ae Ae segues into some excellent hip hop while My Heart He Say is a tight little Latin number with a badass rock guitar streak.
Amidst plenty of lyrics about social responsibility, the unusual and quite gorgeous The Best For You reads like a little prayer: “I just want the best for you, and we just want the best for us. Everything we say and do needs to be real, to be bold, to be true. I had to grieve for love so I could then receive. This life keeps rocking me but we’ll still keep standing.” Over a sparse, industrial reggae clatter, the words repeat like a Hail Mary.
Un Poquito is a humorous-sounding song but unless you speak Spanish you’ll need more than an online Spanish dictionary to help you make sense of this track (“the empty-headed woman looks at the shiny stars?”) and others. Language is not much of a barrier however when you have horn fanfares, percussion that sounds like pounding horse hooves, and bass so deep you could fall into it.
Don’t Keep Silent is a nuanced and thoughtful album. The best numbers are the upbeat booty-shakers, but there is such a range of instrumentation, singing styles and genres here that listeners (and dancers) will be kept on their toes.
Band lynchpin Richard Setford is also the man behind the wonderful weirdness that is Bannerman, and if you haven’t checked that out yet you really should.
Kathryn van Beek
Click here to listen to Falling (Down, Down) from Don’t Keep Silent: