Mako Sica is a trio featuring Przemyslaw Krys Drazek on guitar and trumpet, Michael J. Kendrick on drums and Brent Fuscaldo on vocals, guitar, and various percussion. The words Mako Sica come from a Sioux Lakota Native American term meaning "land bad." They were taken from a signpost at the Painted Desert in Arizona during a trip Fuscaldo took in 2007.
Both Drazek and Kendrick were in the Chicago-based band Rope, who released several records on Family Vineyard before disbanding in 2006. Drazek's unmistakable, atmospheric guitar/trumpet sound and Kendrick's found percussion had taken on a new direction the following year. The addition of Fuscaldo meant keeping the cinematic, lengthy compositions and incorporating groove, deeply rooted in American Blues.
The voice is used here as an operatic instrument, and often the language being sung is indecipherable. There are rarely, if any words, used as lyrics. Fuscaldo stated: "The passion that comes across listening to a Flamenco singer is not lost on me, even though I barely understand Spanish. I decided to not force syllables and words out of sounds that I could easily express without connotation during the writing process." While distant and echoed, his voice comes through with strong and hearkening Eastern intonations, as well as South American influence.
For percussion, Kendrick brings in mixing bowls, wind chimes, and bottle caps, among other bits and pieces. He grew up playing drums in a Country Western band playing occasional barn gigs and then went on to play Metallica covers with a two-piece thrash band. His drumset in Rope, clad with iron skillets and shelves upon shelves of percussion, littered their songs with his unpredictable accents.
Drazek toured in Europe with his Poland-based hardcore band Krzyc before moving to the US. Since then, he has developed a distinct guitar style. With a sound drenched in delay, his low bass rumbles beneath the surface and the piercing treble of his slide guitar evokes whale sounds. His African-style fretwork and flourishes are hidden at times beneath effects and in rare moments, reveal themselves.
Their music grows out of a city from which artists (past and present) including Art Ensemble of Chicago and Sun Ra push their music to the outer limits of definition. Traces of Ennio Morricone and prog rockers Soft Machine can also be found in their music. What all three members have in common is an early discovery of punk. The ethos of American underground DIY labels such as Dischord and Constellation had a lasting impression on their approach to making music.
In the Summer of 2008, the band recorded early versions of these songs themselves and packaged up CDs, customizing each one with unique photos and selling them on a self-booked tour that Fall. A performance at Empty Bottle later that year caught the attention of local cassette label Plus Tapes, who released a version of that tour CD on cassette.
The following May 2009, the band set up their equipment in Strobe Recording on the Northwest side of Chicago, invited some friends to sit in on the session and recorded a live record. Permanent Records released the two songs, roughly 30 minutes long, on a 12". All 120 copies were handmade and screened with an insert quoting someone who heard the record in advance of its pressing, describing the band as "Early ECM catalogue played by punk rockers."
That same month, the trio headed into a studio housed under the warehouse where, ironically, the Constellation and Dischord releases that helped shape their musical growth are shipped out daily. Guitarist Todd Rittman of the respected Chicago band US Maple and James Zespy, engineer and collaborator with June Panic and Songs: Ohia, recorded Mako Sica's debut Dual Horizon. It will be released through La Societe Expeditionnaire in the Spring of 2010, followed by the band's Northeastern US tour.