$25 Advance/$30 Door
Doors - 7 PM
Abraxas - 7:30 PM
Death Valley Girls - 8:30 PM
W.I.T.C.H. - 9:30 PM
W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend to Cause Havoc)
W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend To Cause Havoc) were the biggest rock band in Zambia in the 1970s and spearheaded a new genre dubbed Zamrock, fusing influences that ranged from the Rolling Stones to Black Sabbath and James Brown and mixing them with traditional African rhythms and bush village songs. At t the peak of their popularity, the band often needed police to keep fans at bay while their lead singer Jagari - whose name is an Africanisation of Mick Jagger’s - riled up crowds by stage diving from balconies and dancing manically as the WITCH’s blend of psychedelic rock and African rhythms permeated the surrounding atmosphere.
Jagari is the charismatic sole surviving original member of the band. As Zambia’s economy stagnated and the country buckled under the AIDS crisis, WITCH fell apart. Jagari retreated to a life of quasi-anonymity as a university music professor before being wrongfully arrested during Zambia’s toughest hour. Now a man in his 60s, he spends his time mining gemstones hoping to strike it rich, until very recently the band being just a nostalgic memory of his youth.
Largely unknown outside of their home country, WITCH finally got the exposure they deserved when Now Again Records reissued their entire discography in 2012. This allowed Jagari to play outside Africa for the first time and for a new generation of fans to discover his music. In 2016 he began a collaboration with Dutch musicians Jacco Gardner and Nic Mauskoviç, and together with them, in September 2017 WITCH headed out on its extremely successful first-ever European Tour. In the Fall of 2019, WITCH embarked on their first North American tour. They return to the states including this show at The Drake on 10/9 following the screening of the documentary at the Amherst Cinema on 9/7.
Death Valley Girls
Rock n’ roll has always served as a means to elevate the fringe of society, though it’s accentuated the plights of the outcasts and misfits in different ways throughout the years. In its infancy, rock was a playful rebuttal against segregation and Puritanism. In the ‘60s, it became a vehicle for an elevated consciousness. In the years following the Summer of Love and the clampdown on Flower Power, that countercultural spirit adopted the aggravated and occasionally nihilistic edge of bands like The Stooges, Black Sabbath, MC5, and The New York Dolls. And then as the ‘80s approached, popular rock n’ roll turned into a relatively benign celebration of hedonism and decadence, but that contingent of dark mystics from the ‘70s who lifted the veil and used music as a means of rallying people to altered planes had left their mark. It was an undercurrent in rock that would never die, but would percolate in corners of the underground. Today we can see it manifest in LA’s Death Valley Girls.
Carolina Faruolo (ex-Los Bitchos) and Danny Lee Blackwell (Night Beats) had been friends and mutual admirers of each other’s musical projects for years, though with Faruolo residing in the UK and Blackwell residing in Texas, their interactions were limited. Yet as was so often the case for many of us during the shelter-in-place stretches of 2020, geographic proximity wound up being a non-issue as our socializations became almost exclusively online endeavors. In this era of isolation and uncertainty, Faruolo and Blackwell invented their own private escape to Latin rhythms, colorful vistas, and smoky revelries under the project name of Abraxas. Combining their shared love of Wendy Renee, Los Destellos, doo-wop and R&B, they crafted their debut album Monte Carlo by bouncing ideas across the Atlantic.
“Planet Abraxas is a world filled with jungles, mist-covered rivers, panthers lurking in the night, desolate shopping malls, Neolithic citadels and sand-worn walls,” Blackwell says of the muse behind Monte Carlo. “The nights are usually dense with fog and the air is filled with the sounds of cicadas and faraway drumming.” This visual manifestation of their sound stands in stark contrast to the environment in which the songs were written. “I remember the feeling I got the first time Danny added vocals to one of my tracks,” Faruolo recalls. “I was sitting on my sofa in rainy Manchester in the middle of winter. I pressed play and the song just made my heart jump. It instantly felt special and, more importantly, it felt like a perfect portrait of both of us.”
Uruguayan-born Faruolo grew up with the tropical beats of cumbia and the psychedelic flavor of classic chicha artists, and it became her mission to infuse those sunny influences in her work as a UK musician. Blackwell’s work under the Night Beats handle involves the fusion of outlaw soul and R&B with a resourceful DIY spirit. Despite the apparent contrast in their styles, the two musicians bonded over their reverence for Selena and Sade, exemplars of the humid pulse and sultry spirit of their respective approaches. As Abraxas, their distinctive musical perspectives created a sound that encompassed the tropicalia of Os Mutantes, the scrappy songwriting of Cleaners From Venus, and the trippy production of Lee “Scratch” Perry, though the duo is quick to assert that they were finding their own distinctive voices rather than adhering to pre-existing stylistic codes and constraints. And indeed, Monte Carlo feels rooted in tradition but blossoms into its own unique timbres and vibrations.
Monte Carlo opens with “Sunrise State (of Mind),” where a hypnotic cumbia beat serves as the bedrock for cosmic guitar leads, hazy choral melodies, and Blackwell’s seductive vocals. From there, the album continues its steady Latin pulse on “Mañana,” a perfect soundtrack to feverish nights in dancehalls, sipping on caipirinhas and sharing cigarettes with strangers on the dancefloor. Across its twelve tracks, Monte Carlo unfurls a myriad of exotic influences, from the Eastern melodies and guitar trills on “Sultan,” through the dub-inflected stomp and scorching fuzz of “La Estampida,” and on to the Anatolian psych-funk of album closer “Göbekli Tepe.”
Blackwell recorded his contributions with the assistance of engineer Chris Maciel at his studio the 22nd Dimension in Pomona, California and Faruolo recorded her parts in Manchester, England at Brunswick Mill. While Abraxas conceived their material in bedrooms and studios six timezones apart, the music on Monte Carlo sounds like a live band in the throes of an ecstatic performance. And Abraxas plans to make the live incarnation of the band a reality when conditions allow for it. Until then, listeners can bask in the invented world of Abraxas and all its exotic and enticing splendor across the twelve tracks of Monte Carlo. Suicide Squeeze Records is proud to present Monte Carlo to the world later in 2022 on digital and vinyl formats.