Lápidas y cocoteros, Violeta Vil
Discoteca Océano, Spain/Venezuela
by Pierre Lestruhaut
Perhaps one of the most intriguing untold stories about the CF headquarters (Really? There is such a thing?), is the fact that for the last couple of years Violeta Vil was devoid of any skeptics. Our best songs of 2011 list won't tell you so, as standout tracks “Amish” and “Toronjil” both shined in our Top 40, yet for some of us it felt like there was still something missing in them. Almost two years after hearing the initial homemade recordings of VV, we’ve got to see what their songs finally sound like in their finished professionally-recorded incarnation, and as the rating at the left of this text will tell you, this time I have absolutely fallen for VV. Lápidas y cocoteros is not only a vast improvement from their Demo (I), but downright one of the best Latin records of the year.
Previously defining themselves as a tropical goth band (gravestones and coconuts... duh) - something that very rightfully pointed at how they elegantly played with the contradictions of crafting moods that elicit both the exuberance of tropicalism and the eeriness of goth rock - now teaming up with Pegasvs’ Sergío Pérez García has allowed them to outline instead how much melodic substance they’ve gained from that. Although pretty much everything that needs to be said about “Amish,” “Toronjil,” and “Lápidas y cocoteros” has already been said, it’s useful to point out just how much the production has raised the value on some of these tracks. “Amish” retains all of its mournful storytelling, sonically turning up their bliss levels and emphasizing on the whisper-in-your-ear vocals; while “Toronjil” is a more impassioned beast, adding intensity to its tale of violently disturbed communion.
As a whole Lápidas y cocoteros is an assuredly laconic album, yet devoid of any fillers, it feels not only extremely substantial, but also hectically consuming in the way I’ve found myself addicted to a different song every day since I first listened to it. The pursuit of beauty through repetition and distortion will inevitably have me doing some very obvious and unnecessary comparisons with bands like Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter and Animal Collective (as if nothing happened before 1988). And even if they do pull some ravishingly charming shit with guitar pedals and synths in “Tormentas (sonrisas)” and “Confitura”, the most interesting piece the band has created thus far is a cover of Violeta Parra’s “La pericona se ha muerto.” Shortening its title to “La pericona,” they manage the feat to eulogize Violeta Parra the poet, the singer, and the revolutionary, while pledging their allegiance to the graceful and the occult.
If you’re already familiar with Violeta Vil’s sound though, you’ll quickly find that it’s one that easily aligns itself with music that, depending on which side you’re fighting for, can be shallowly described as beautiful, dreamy and contemplative on one side, but also as dull, thoughtless and underdeveloped on the other. Yet what’s probably the most accomplished improvement that VV have attained in Lápidas y cocoteros, is in conceiving something that’s so smoothly capital G Gorgeous, but that never sacrifices the band’s flair for idiosyncratic musical ideas. As someone who’s an absolute sucker for all things related to a dreamy-sounding distorted guitar (or to MBV for that matter), it’s one heck of a record. Because they so effortlessly walk the uncanny line between making music that’s pretty and making music that’s challenging, that they’ve put together, in the ears of someone who loves Jessie Ware as much as Phil Elverum, some confoundingly beautiful piece of a dream pop record.