Onda Temporal, Episodio Ocho: White Ninja

The newest episode of Onda Temporal presents an untitled new track by White Ninja. The previous seven episodes of the series served from an outside setting that in cases defined their purpose –they sure where easier to dissect than this one. Shot in a rehearsal room (recording room?) filled with both analog and digital machines, this might be the less memorable episoide yet on the surface, but as part of the Onda Temporal narrative, it’s truly significant. Leaving the topics of pedestrian and suburban life, White Ninja and director Carlos Matsuo choose to stay within walls as a way to shelter a song that’s still a work in progress. As the camera circles around, surveying the space and its subjects, it’s especially fascinating to see the blinding light coming out of the window. Whatever lives outside that room must be magnificient, for it manifests its prescence through splendorous white noise.

Diosque - Constante

Constante, Diosque
Quemasucabeza, Argentina
Rating: 93
by Carlos Reyes

One of the greatest joys of making Club Fonograma is the privilege of artists sending us their music before it hits the public light. When Juan Roman Diosque sent me a couple of songs from Constante, he was getting pretty close to releasing it via his website, like he did with his last record, Bote. “I honestly believe this album deserves more than it just being uploaded into a website,” Diosque wrote as he consulted other options. It only took one spin of “La Cura” for me to agree –I was moved and visibly shaken the power of of his crescendos of both, the music and the vernacular. That same week, I forwarded the MP3 of the song to Rodrigo Santis from Quemasucabeza, who quickly set everything up to add Diosque to the label’s roster, where he now finds his name next to the likes of Gepe, Ases Falsos and his compatriot, Coiffeur.

Since its birth, Constante (produced by Jean Deon) collapsed and aligned itself for a healthy, vibrant life. Not only is Constante Diosque’s revelation piece (time might credit it as a masterpiece one day) it’s also Quemasucabeza’s best release since Audiovisión. “Recopilo pedazos tuyos que me das cuando te miro,” sings Diosque in Bote’s beautiful single “La dictadura de tu belleza.” When dissecting his last album, I accused the Argentine songwriter of showing symptoms of voyeurism and paraphilia. Looking back, I really sound like a desperate critic trying to make sense of Diosque’s many vocal and melodic fragmentations. But whereas a title like Constante would make you think he would subscribe to form and shift towards more stable and digestible narratives, Diosque gold-brushes and shines his sequencing tools, placing a rare faith in the listener’s aural sense.

Seeing music as a provocation of the senses, it’s almost cruel how disturbing and shockingly vivid Diosque allows himself to be throughout Constante. Take for example the vocal tab of “Arriba,” where Diosque defies the opportunity to sound fluid to instead, fit his content within the fragmented space of his composition. Think of it as those ultra-conscious walks when you suddenly become aware of the amount of steps you fit within the same tile – and how it's inevitable to develop negotiations with balance and patterns on the long run. The aesthetics and concepts of Constante redirect us to the concepts of infinity in time and space. “Aprovecho la eternidad mientras viva” sighs Diosque in “Una Naranja,” seeing his quest for stability as a continual emotional detachment. This is a work that rewards the demands it makes to its listeners.

From its very first track, Constante reveals itself as a puzzling work. Album opener “Fuego” is chopped and tormented –as if Diosque wanted us to see the unlikely construction of his composition (perhaps hoping for a deconstruction of our own). We may question his methods of storytelling, but it’s that progressively unlikeliness of Diosque’s melodies and hooks that brings it its appeal. That incessant search for a chorus and its half a dozen rhythm shifts make “La Cura” a marvel of a song. What’s truly interesting here is the almost anti-climatic approach on its fast-paced canvas. Structurally, “La Cura” lacks a chorus. Making that realization is as distressing as it is fascinating. The vocal decoding in the second half of the song is the most heart-breaking digital mumbling since Kanye West’s “Runway.” The song hits its peak on its final output through a couple of NASA rockets (digital raptures) that Diosque treats beautifully – glimpsing them only once and resisting to make a loop out of them like everyone has done ever since “Midnight City.”

It’s beautiful to see the discourse of Constante unveil before our eyes. For instance, how Diosque begins to employ certain conducts to his composition. If something made Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty almost an unbearable watch for me was its harassment of providing with beautiful images one after the other. Diosque chooses its moments and chooses them well. Moments like the “papapahs” in “La Verdad Rota,” the disco rapture of “Soy Las Seis,” and the intoxicatingly beautiful elevation of a bridge cascading itself up to a climax in “Broncedado.” Perhaps what gets Constante further than other recent works from Diosque’s contemporaries like Coiffeur and Helado Negro are its monumental pop pieces. “La Cura” and “Bronceado” are as grandeur as any single by Javiera Mena or Astro, and that make Constante truly stunning to behold even during its uncanny moods and quietly gripping conclusion.

Free Download for 24 Hours (Tuesday) HERE. 

Viva Pomona 2014: Festival Report

Despite being the fifth largest city in the U.S, nothing really happens in Phoenix when it comes to the music festival circuit. What is fortunate though, is its proximity to cities where cultural production (in the form of events) is fruitful. We didn’t hesitate to take a 6-hour drive to Rosarito Beach a month ago to see Fuete Billete at All My Friends, and it was a no brainer to do the same for El mató a un policía motorizado at this year’s edition of Viva Pomona.

Although it had featured several bands from our “Iberoamerican Indie” world on last year’s lineup, this year Viva Pomona became a stronghold and acquired real relevancy in our circuit. Following the example of Monterrey’s NRMAL and Tijuana’s All My Friends, this year the curation of Vive Pomona emphasized the bicultural need of featuring bands from the region, and from down the border. While Coachella raised eyebrows with the last minute inclusion of Zoe as their Latin token card, there’s no cultural desperation felt in the curation of Rene Contreras and his Viva Pomona crew.

Taken place at the Glass House, the festival witnessed a mixed crowd of hipsters and alternative kids. On its first day (Saturday), the event had a discrete crowd. My twin brother and I had one mission: get as close to the stage during El mató's set. But before that festival highlight, there were some good surprises earlier that night. Guadalajara’s Dorotheo (who are on a west coast tour with Francisco y Madero), really sounded bold and blended nicely with the Californian chilly weather (for us Phoenicians, anything below 90 degrees is cold). If anything, Dorotheo proved to be entertaining and far less alienating than how they sound on record. Austin-based, via Monterrey Gus Goose (who’s put out one of the most memorable music clips of the year) showed just how convenient (and awesomely great) one-man acts can be at music festivals. There was warmth, energy, and rage in his performance –if somebody single-handedly embodied the DIY essence of the fest, it was Gus Solis.

The main stage inside The Glass House was uncomfortably dark, with what seemed like ten pounds of smoke floating on the stage. But no scenery or lighting flaws could prevent us from enjoying El mató a un policía motorizado. I had always imagined they would open their set with “Nuevos Discos” and they did. The restraint in this song might have angst a few, but once they released that “Nuevos discos, nuevas drogas” chorus, everyone understood the band’s negotiation with melody. The set was focused on promoting La Dinastia Scorpio, which is being released in the states by Nacional Records next week. Songs like “Mujeres Bella y Fueres,” “Chica de Oro,” and especially “Yoni B” sounded truly grand and transgressive. Not to forget the pulling of our heartstrings in the always-beautiful “Más o Menos Bien.” They sure made the trip worth it.

The second day of the festival (Sunday) brought about twice the crowd of Saturday (a whiter crowd, I should point out). That sure is unusual, but not entirely unreasonable considering the attraction of bands like Thee Oh Sees and Crystal Antlers. First time playing in the U.S., house favorites Los Blenders were terrific. Not exactly looking like the surf/poptart culture they often sound like, they were probably the band that earned more new fans after the festival. Their blood-curling performance of new single “Chavos Bien,” was the best individual number at the festival. Another highlight was Chicano Batman (with their awesome blue outfits and retro hair styles… yes, even the drummer’s mullet and the shiny bald head of the guitarist) who managed to be simultaneously classy and funky. But the nicest surprise out of the entire lineup was L.A.-based band Santoros. Excuse my lack of sources, but I just couldn’t figure out if the band was made out of Latinos or Philipinos. But it really doesn’t matter. Their awesome performance made up for any technical (the lack of printed programs made it difficult to move around the three stages) or lineup flaws (Porter) of the entire fest.

If there’s anything to change for next year, is to point out the lack of popular music. Not meaning mainstream, but a bit of ruidoson or cumbia would’ve made everything that much more special. And here is hoping the fest maintains the interest for showcasing bands from both the anglo, and Iberoamerican worlds. Because really at the end, those of us traveling from places like Tijuana, San Francisco, and Phoenix made the effort of fueling our gas tanks to support that foundation. Viva Pomona! could do well with all-California bands, but what ultimately made this edition a relative success is that push to attract that inevitable “latin hipster” audience that’s soon to arrive in bigger, more profitable ways.

Onda Temporal, Episodio Siete: Verano Peligroso

Episode seven of the Onda Temporal webseries features the most chilling setting so far. It’s a travelogue of a tiny strip of what makes up Mexico City, starting at the infamous Bar Heaven, a club where twelve people were dissapeared (murdered) by organized crime. We can see the wall of the bar stamped with posters made by the victims’ families. While La Blogotheque’s visit to Mexico brought out lovely performances (framed by beautiful touristic vignettes), you really can’t beat the profound and emotional rawness idiosyncracy offers to director Carlos Matsuo. The travelogue is musicalized by Verano Peligroso, a little known duo by two familiar names to most of us: JackintoDiYEah! (member of Furland) and EsaMiPau! (radio host at Mexico City’s Ibero 90.9). “This goes to any people that has suffered a dissapearence,” they say on the intro, quickly establishing an emotional connection (contrasted to the expansive architecture of the buildings that surround them) with all of us that have gone through the estrangement of a loved one, including love itself of course. With brushes of twee and a beautiful cascade of whistles, Verano Peligroso encounter a great way to take their pop melodies out of the bedroom.