Nacional Records, Colombia
By Carlos Reyes
How many times do we have to say it? Aterciopelados might just be the best Latin rock band of all time, but Café Tacvba is around, and so we find it impossible to decide between musical treasures. Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago arrived at the right moment, with one of the most radical visions in the emerge of rock en español, and they keep delivering marvelous pieces into their transcendental discography. Ever since Gozo Poderoso (2001), the duo has taken on a search for bright themes for our earth, accentuating nature and a handful of benefits as a consequence of optimism and positivism. Andrea and Hector released solo albums a few years ago, only to comeback with the amazingly profound Oye! and now Rio, which could be read as an equally vibrant continuation.
Aterciopelados embraces social protestation with their most powerful weapons, their lyrics. Having something to say isn’t sufficient to make an artist socially conscious, but these two visionaries manifest their unconditional offerings through deep-felt beautiful poems that happen to be singed and instrumented. Many years of Guerilla resistance have imposed national and individual fear in Colombia, the music of Aterciopelados smoothens the political tension through an auditory war of its own, one of peaceful and cosmic directions. I usually don’t tolerate artists exposing their art at maximum zooming (like a photographer chasing a victim of war), even if they are well intentioned, but Aterciopelados has the sensibility to depict reality, contemplate it and provide options to form change.
First single “Rio” asks us to send our rivers some oxygen, to send prayers and hope for the fish to comeback. The song humanizes our rivers and seals a connection between nature and our bodies, both in need of clean waters. The backgrounds are particularly outstanding; Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago are true mavericks of atmospheric sensibility. “Vienen las aguas del rio, corriendo, cantando! por la ciudad van soñando ser limpias, ser claras”, one of the great singles of the year. Also astonishing is “28” which shares a lot with “A Eme O” a single from Andrea Echeverri’s 2005 solo album. The title of the song refers to the menstrual cycle, “the blood didn’t arrive in the 28th day,” pregnancy had never been so poetically presented in any song before. For those complaining that their music doesn’t evolve just listen to a song like “Vals” or “Ataque de Risa”, there is no niche in their music or a comfort zone, just a direction.
They have released a video for “Hijos de Tigre”, a song for the film La Milagrosa (Rafa Lara, 2008) about the guerrilla and military repression in their country. “Bandera” is one of the great direct songs on immigration and a strong defensive song on those limiting our path towards our dream. Rio is fun and nostalgic, and in a way a sibling of another record this year, oddly not from a Latino band but from the Fleet Foxes self-titled album (one of the year’s ultimate best). Rio is charged with folk and traditional Iberoamerican lyricism that most international media would fail to fully appreciate, but their vision is so wide that the album is not only universally appealing but a charmingly persuasive document of action.