Música Negra, Michael Mike
by Carlos Reyes
You can’t blame an indie band for trying to gain back a little of their hard-worked financial investment through the good old trick of selling music. But sometimes you have to look further and make choices that are realistic when considering your audience. Michael Mike released Música Negra last summer through CD Baby, and the response (if any) was lukewarm to say the least. With no way to stream the album in its entirety, the audience and media outlets regarded the release as something inaccessible. Then late in December, the Argentine act put a stop to self-sabotage by making public a Mediafire link to download their album on their website. And what a difference has that smart move made.
While the timing of its scratchy release certainly hurt the album’s success at zeitgest (as this is something that could’ve easily popped up on many best-of-the-year lists), Música Negra is a bold, disco-effervescent album that’s transcending the year-to-year transition by its own merit. The six-member act evolved the menacing canvas of their last record Nena o Neno, and turned into something less threatening: a nuanced pop proposition. Recent disco pop out of Iberoamerica seems to divide itself between the worldly minimal/house group (Mamacita, John Talabot, Matias Aguayo), and the more pedestrian/melodramatic songwriters (Javiera Mena, Alex Anwandter, Linda Mirada), Michael Mike make it pretty damn hard to place them on any group. Música Negra goes from tailored disco flairs (“Experto en vos”), to abrasive synths (“Caca Sonica”)–lighting and shutting off the discoball as they please.
First single “Tun Tun” was aptly described by fellow Fonograma writer Claire Frisbie, as something “to combat any impending winter blues.” She’s so right. This track is delightful in how it manifests itself–you may suit it as part of your sunny playlist, but the rise and breakdown of those cascading sequences mimic those moments where repressing pain isn’t an option. Bound to be single “Carmen” is overly staged and so scandalized in its chorus that it’s hard not to see it as a statement. Much like “Carmen,” Música Negra finds itself critically involved in the fetishization of a disco pulse as applied to emotional discourse. We'll take that over the ideologically-bruised and misplaced propositions made in that comeback album by Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas any day. Música Negra is an example of how when the music is reachable and up for grabs, anyone can be a critic.
♫♫♫ "Carmen" | Download Album