Macha Dominates College Radio With Eastern-Laced Psychedelia

Combining Indonesian rhythms with the avant garde sensibilities of Can, the Athens, Georgia band known as Macha has become the hottest act on college radio, thanks to two experimentally toned releases in the past twelve months.

Macha's newest album, "See It Another Way," was released in early August and has dominated the CMJ Radio charts for the last two months, logging three straight weeks at number one.

Formed in 1996 by Kai Riedl and brothers Joshua and Mischo McKay, the trio knocked around Athens rehearsal spaces as its friends in Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel began to gather attention for their own psychedelic (yet contemporary) alternative musings as part of the Elephant 6 Collective.

The three-piece expanded into a foursome last year with the addition of Wes Martin, an old friend of the McKays (and a former guitarist for Edie Brickell and New Bohemians), and Macha subsequently released its self-titled debut last November.

"Macha" exhibited

the band's penchant for distinctly Eastern-inspired soundscapes, which were inspired by Joshua McKay's trips to Indonesia in 1992 and '96. Aside from drummer Mischo, all the other members of Macha are multi-instrumentalists, easily switching from guitar to Farfisa organ to a variety of Indonesian percussion instruments.

After touring on and off for eight months in support of "Macha," the band planned to ride the momentum into the studio and cut an EP of songs that had been featured in its live show or written on the road. Instead, as Joshua McKay recently told MTV News, the two-week, 24-hour-a-day sessions produced so much material that Macha quickly realized that it had all the ingredients necessary for a full-length follow-up.

"It was a mixture of some of the oldest and some of the newest material," McKay said of the "See It Another Way" sessions. "Sort of like the feeling with the first record,

which was that we finally had this opportunity to record our core set of songs, because we made [the first] record pretty early in our development."

"So with ['See it Another Way'], we kind of threw caution to the wind and let the songs that were also contenders just be recorded. We even used a recording from the first four months of when we were together. A very early recording of one of those songs, 'Mirror,' is on the [new] record, and it's butted up against a song that Kai literally pulled together the two weeks before we went into the studio, 'Submarine Lover.'"

"It's the widest time gap of development between those two songs," he added, "yet people seem to think it's conceived more consciously and

deliberately than even our first

record, so more power to 'em." [RealAudio]

Macha has just wrapped its East Coast tour of the U.S. and plans to take the next few weeks off before heading out on a fall tour in support of "See It Another Way."