Published Feb 09, 2018The music that Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist Brandon Valdivia makes as Mas Aya carries strong messages, exploring themes of Indigenous rights and solidarity, criticism of socio-economic structures and more. During his Megaphono set, these lyrical messages were largely inaudible, lost to the slapback echo that dominated Valdivia's lone microphone. The effect choice served much better for his selection of live instruments, adding a different dimension to the sounds of claves, shakers, a tin whistle and kuisi flute.
Conga player Reimundo Sosa also joined Valdivia on stage, with his sound technique across three drums serving as a welcome complement to the booming drums of the backing tracks. With the addition of pre-recorded flutes or the blast of a saxophone, the laptop occasionally overpowered much of what was happening live, leaving Valdivia and Sosa little time to lock back into a groove. In moments both danceable and introspective, Valdivia's layers would benefit from (and certainly deserve) a larger soundsystem.