I was lucky enough to be one of about a hundred punx packed tight into a sweaty Jamaica Plain basement a few weekends back. The room was pitch black except for a single strobe light which backlit the four women in front of us and the energy in the room was palpable. The band was RAKTA. They had come all the way from Sao Paulo and had played a bigger local club the night before, but it was in JP’s dank underground where they seemed most at home.
“On this tour we’ve gotten the feeling that for a lot of people punk is just a fashion”, the singer told us in what may have been a sly dig at a certain Danish combo they opened for the night before, “but here with you all we feel like punk can be a threat again”. The crowd responded enthusiastically: pogoing, swaying and flailing about almost as a single organism, amazingly without ever knocking over the Juno synth prominently placed between audience and performers. When the set was over and the band had played all the songs they had, the rabid group was fully converted. They wouldn’t let the band stop, forcing an encore that I’m pretty sure was made up on the spot. They sold almost all their merch that night.
Rakta – Caverna from Maria Paula on Vimeo.
The backbone of that set, which will hands-down be remembered as one of my favorites of 2014, were the 8 songs on the band’s eponymous debut LP. The sound takes hints from classic death rock and post-punk faves like XMAL DEAUTSCHLAND and SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES as well as from anarcho-punk acts like LOST CHERREES and even nods toward psych rock, but unlike the droves of revivalists going for those sounds at the moment they really SELL it. Nothing about this record sounds nostalgic or contrived. The spacey echo and reverb and creepy organ tones create a sort of cathedral of sound (or perhaps it’s a rainforest canopy), but the rhythm section and guitars bash the songs out relentlessly, driving the whole thing forward in a way that too many newer goth-influenced bands never manage. Rakta’s first full-length plays out like an invocation of some fierce but protective and noble deity. It’s unlike anything anyone else is doing right now. Give it a listen. You won’t regret it.
RAKTA is available now from Nada Nada Discos.