Review: Rakta ‘Live At Novas Frequências’

Rakta have been one of the most fascinating bands to follow the development of over the last decade, the Brazilians having refined, and expanded, their mind-altering sounds over a series of releases and earning a formidable live reputation. Much like their UK spiritual relatives GNOD, they’re a band you could wholeheartedly describe as playing psychedelic rock, but in a way that sounds nothing like the paisley shirted subpar Spacemen 3-ism that phrase so often evokes. Their psychedelia is altogether darker, less acid and more DMT perhaps, influenced as much by goth/death rock, and perhaps even the tribal utterances of bands like Crash Worship or Savage Republic. Rakta are often as frightening as they are hypnotic.

Rakta ‘Live At Novas Frequências’

This recording from the 2016, Live At Novas Frequências, captures the band at the height of their powers performing at one of Brazil’s most renowned festivals, and serves as both manna for long-time fans and perhaps a fine point of entry for those as yet uninitiated into Rakta‘s anti-chthonic sound world. The chorused-out bass, effected vocals and motorik drumming create a kind of tunnel vision for the ears that drag you continuously into their orbit, blocking out everything else around them. It’s an eight-song set, the fourth track being a drum piece that serves as a crossing point from the opening three tracks’ steady flow, into the more intense second half.

Serpente, the song that kicks off the latter run, sounds like a band playing around some kind of bonfire in the woods late at night, rather than on a stage. The shimmering bass and echoing vocals have a strong atmosphere of the night about them – it’s perhaps the most overtly ‘goth’ influence of the songs here and pinpoints everything special about them; somehow though the songs have a mostly simple, repetitive structure, Rakta seem to be in constant, steady motion, and what on paper seem to be minimal ingredients, always gives maximal results. I don’t know how they do it, but it works. It’s often the case that a song will feel like a variation on the one before it, and on a live record you can understand it better – it’s all about flow with Rakta. It seems almost like a stream of consciousness elucidated through rock instrumentation. It’s easy and enjoyable to get lost in it all.

The chorused-out bass, effected vocals and motorik drumming create a kind of tunnel vision for the ears that drag you continuously into their orbit…

It all reaches its peak naturally with the closing Ganex/Blackmob, what seems like a sampled English speaking voice introducing their last charge through orbit. The vocals are delayed and glitched as they wail into the void, synthetic waves crash against the bass and drums faintly (if there’s one negative to this album it’s the mix, which often buries the synths/noise a little more in favour of making the bass more prominent) before we hit a slower plateau temporarily. Before long however, Rakta are off again, building and ascending through walls of delay into a climax… and then silence. They’re gone.

As live albums go it’s short and to the point, but then that’s no surprise; Rakta‘s very core is focus, so it’s natural this should serve as a concise document of their live set, rather than being excessive. Will you reach for this over the studio albums? Perhaps not, but it holds its own with everything they’ve put out so far, and works wonderfully as a standalone postcard from the outskirts of their lysergic musical territory.

Label: Subsound Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Jamie Grimes