Hallucigenia Vol. I, Dave Rata
Nene Records, México
By Blanca Méndez
Unless you’re into the whole masochism thing (do what you do), you probably won’t want to listen to Dave Rata’s Hallucigenia Vol. I alone and/or in the dark. The album is a jolting ride through a reimagined 20th century New England, deceptively quiet and quaint, which is how the album starts. But don’t be fooled because Hallucigenia Vol. I is New England via the streets of Monterrey and punk rock at its finest. David Serrano, better known in Monterrey’s punk rock scene as Dave Rata, has been a major player in that scene since his days in Taladro Supremo. He also played in Mockinpott before forming Ratas del Vaticano, and now his solo project has resulted in an 11-track horror punk saga inspired by and in tribute to H.P. Lovecraft and interpreted through the lens of Mexico’s own modern day horror story.
Before the vocals kick in on the album opener “Por dentro,” you might think you’re in for some light pop punk fun, but as soon as Dave belts out that first line (“Puedo correr si quiero,” in case you couldn’t make it out), you know you have to brace yourself. Equally hair-raising is “Puesta de sol,” a frantic and chaotic minute and a half of crashing cymbals and brash vocals, with a very weird fiction guitar melody that H.P. Lovecraft would approve of. And you can definitely sense the prolific writer’s influence throughout the album. Lovecraft’s writing has been described as “cosmic horror,” a term that fits Hallucigenia Vol. I perfectly, especially on tracks like “Penumbra,” a song that alludes to Yuggoth, a planet in the fictional universe created by Lovecraft (the Cthulhu Mythos), and “Sombra.” Both deal with the idea of darkness in masterful ways, employing echoes and distortion in a subtle, yet profound manner that at once evokes the cold of a dungeon and the vast loneliness of space.
For “No es nada,” Dave takes a break from the scream fest and delivers a song that sounds sweet in comparison to the rest of the album, even though it’s a break-up song (or something like it) with Dave declaring “no quiero volverte a ver ya.” But the standout tracks of the album are the most traditionally punk rock ones: “Ebrio en el Mexicano” and “Al chile soy punk.” The latter in particular is anthemic in its decrying of a city that breeds sameness and vanity, evident in lines like “los punks uniformados para mi piensan igual que todos los que se arrastran.”
H.P. Lovecraft wrote dark and cynical tales, like “The Call of Cthulhu,” set in foreign lands and complete with mythical creatures and fear of the unknown and unknowable. Ultimately, however, no matter how fantastic the tale, the true terror was stark reality. Dave takes these themes and translates them into modern language, creating his own horror poetry inspired by the real life horrors that he lives in the midst of. And “la puta violencia” that is a terrifying reality in Mexico today is far more frightening than anything Lovecraft could have dreamed up. You’re going to want to leave the light on for this one, kids.
Hallucigenia Vol. I, Dave Rata