Brazilian rockers Macaco Bong just released their sixth studio album, an instrumental remake of Nirvana’s Nevermind, Deixa Quieto. The band consists of Bruno Kayapy on baritone guitar, Daniel Hortides on bass, and Renato Pestana tickling the tympany on drums. Instead of a swimming infant, the album art features a salt and pepper bearded man, out diving in striped shorts and stylish goggles.
The sound, different from Kurt’s electric snarl, is pulled back, in a way, but reveals just enough to entice. In “Móviaje” the guitar flickers like a giant sequin on a loud dress and the drumbeats fall like hurricane rain. “Nublum” is a pure delight, with guitar chords that are comfortable and land with a soft thud, like a pair of new sneakers being put to the test. Upon hearing it, I feel a tinge of longing for that make-you-salivate loud guitar (guitarreschmerz?), but it’s that very feeling that keeps me on the edge of my seat. There are many moments in the album when the pull of the groove is irresistible; “Briza” is one place where that happens in particular. The tonal play and guitar scratching in “Loló” plea to the listener, and the scratchy rhythm and parabolic guitar notes in “Com Easy ou Uber” shrink and grow with the ever-present drums.
The verses of “Lírio” are upright like that swinging hollow beat the Beatles liked for a while, and the bass has a vibratory quality that reminds me of melted mozzarella. The guitar moves ahead in almost ritualistic fashion. “Drive-In You” is lusciously grungy, the kind of thing that might make a group of people dance hard on floor boards that creak when there aren’t any amps around.
“Território Piercing” begins, fulfilling the aural expectancy and shattering through it with an added layer, the artist’s stamp on someone else’s work. It works. In “Longe de Tudo” the guitar scratches at the window of your consciousness as the drums tap you on the shoulder. The effect is psychedelic and something you can fall into, assuming you’re not operating any heavy machinery. The beat wriggles around in the three minutes or so it’s around for, clearing a path for the big, bad beginning to “Somente Whey,” where the guitar is dark and barbed, threatening to pull nearby objects into its orbit around the drums. As the song closes the album, the bass takes you by the hand and leads you deeper into and out through the chaos woven around the beat. The album ends big.
From start to finish, Deixa Quieto is 51 minutes to get lost in, as Macaco Bong take listeners on an exploration of the essence of a part of Nirvana’s legacy. There is some reminiscence, but little dwelling in the past. Add to Deixa Quieto your Music Library!