Independiente, Costa Rica
by Pierre Lestruhaut
When Detectives Salvajes died last year, which was a mere six months after their one and only release of a five-track, 20-minute EP, I think something died within all of us. Us being the folks that somehow developed a certain affection for the band and that were already hoping for a new record from what was, at the time, the most awesome band from Costa Rica not named Las Robertas. But wasn’t Detectives Salvajes simply this pretty murky, No Age-esque band that occasionally used ambient noise loops and seemed to be creatively led by singer and guitar player Adrián Poveda? Couldn’t that work just fine with a different drummer? Well Monte, which sees Adrián teaming up with a new drummer, is just the answer to that.
Upon first listens of this “debut” EP, what’s easiest to notice is just how much Monte mirrors what Detectives were doing in the opening and closing tracks of their own EP, which was basically laying over a sampled but unrecognizable loop and then just simply building a different song (with actual riffs) on top of it. A little like turning the beginning of a Yellow Swans track into a very dusty and erratic rock song. Though contrary to what their own Bandcamp tags might suggest about their sound and influences (krautrock, experimental, noise), their avant hybridity doesn’t necessarily slap its listeners with tireless ignorance, since these somewhat experimental structures eventually culminate in what could be described as some pretty good head-nodding music that features no choruses but does have great bridges and breaks.
Initial tracks “Imperios” and “Neón Furioso” stay within that exercise of turning ambient noise into noise rock for the purpose of laying bridges upon bridges of churning grindstone riffage, eventually telling us that these guys aren’t really making noise via rock songs (as opposed to many bloggable 2010 lo-fi acts), but they’re actually subduing noise to great riffs and better bridges. But it’s in the EP’s last couple of tracks, which extend themselves beyond the six-minute mark, where they precisely show off their most loose and improvisational tone, where they can actually point at those Bandcamp tags and at how their sound can also be defined by some sort of subtle mutability.
Consisting initially of an electronic loop and some detached strumming with heavy pounding beats that eventually see themselves quickly buried upon layers and layers of dissonant sound, closing track “Vapor” finally reaches the point where the initial sample confuses itself with whatever clusterfuckery it is that they do with their own pedals in what is clearly their most off-kilter incarnation yet. With songs like this, Monte kind of remind me of another ungoogleable band: Women (RIP). Because like Women, they succeed at using these types of cues, ones that could easily fit in those old and used up tags like indie, noise, experimental, or ambient. Except that Monte are not really interested in affiliating themselves with any of those tags. In fact, I think they’re a lot more interested in creating what could be called their own fucking musical identity. Now if they could only give us a full-length album, that would really be something.