Arts & Crafts, México
by Pierre Lestruhaut
There’s no point in delaying the aggrandizing statements Bam Bam are worthy of: their second full-length Futura Vía is still the best Latin rock album (not made in Chile) we’ve come across this decade so far. A little over two years after its release, the record still holds up incredibly well as both a solid collection of tunes (not a month goes by without the need to occasionally spin amazing tracks like “Ragatrón” or “Abismático”), and, more importantly, as part of the rare breed of albums that can be considered a round success for excelling in concept, structure, and execution. It’s the type of record that’s part of the reason why we still, occasionally, despite the distractions of the internet era, dedicate ourselves exclusively to the experience of listening to music.
Upon first impression, Arre Krishna, Bam Bam’s most recent EP and follow-up to Futura Vía, feels not like the triumphant return of one of our most beloved bands, but more like an overly delayed release of outtakes from the Futura Vía sessions, which, in comparison to Bam Bam’s couple of excellent albums they had released so far, feels rather disappointing. In terms of the average bulk of Latin rock releases we tend to come across, we couldn’t be happier to have new material from the regiomontano quartet. To compare Arre Krishna to its immediate predecessor would be putting it on an uneven playing field and also overlooking how it’s, in its own right, a solid collection of four tunes and an 11-minute psychedelic trip.
There’s been mention of two tracks being part of the Futura Vía sessions,“Tirando pa fuera” and “¡Regocíjate Hermano!,” which are not coincidentally the ones where you’ll hear former band member Luxor singing. “Tirando pa fuera” begins the EP in medias res with a soft laid-back melody but quickly speeds up the tempo and shifts towards beatlesque hooks and melodies. “ROD” is Bam Bam’s catchiest song to date behind “Ragatrón” and also their most populist incarnation with a much traditional hook-oriented slice of '60s psych rock. It’s in “¡Regocíjate Hermano!” where the EP reaches its climactic moment of vitality and urgency and raises the question of why the potentially best song in Futura Vía was left out of it.
Although fitting more experimental ventures with pop tunes in a single release is a rather rare thing to attempt since the advent of punk downplayed the artification of rock, closer “Líjate bien” sees Bam Bam distancing themselves from their trademark pop tunes in a sort of Ravi Shankar and The Beatles meets Neu! and Kraftwerk, as its Middle Eastern psych groove quickly morphs into a kraut motorik beat. It feels rather anachronistic, but works well on a visceral level. Bam Bam doesn’t want you to take their religious and interstellar references too seriously, and “Líjate bien” is aimed at stimulating your gut rather than your brain.
Regardless of whether Arre Krishna will turn out to be an interlude amidst a continuous series of aesthetically similar works or the epilogue closing a period and making room for a new one in the oeuvre of Bam Bam, the EP lives up to both parts well enough. With a mixture of Futura Vía outtakes and brand new songs, including one that sees the band sort of leave their comfort zone, Arre Krishna fulfills its duty of being both a very enjoyable rock record that provides new material for individual track listening and as a “batch of songs that should be preferably listened to in a certain order.” It’s a short record that reminds us how much we can enjoy good rock and roll and its whole spectrum of primitive, urgent, emotional, and left-field forms.