Mi Technobanda, Santos
by Carlos Reyes
Applying the “rule of Three” is important for anyone daring to finger-point to a wave or movement. It’s present in literature (Three Little Pigs), in celluloid (The Three Stooges), in music formation (Los Tres), and in effect, in all subdivisions of the arts. When Los Macuanos and María y José presented ruidosón to the world we all needed a third act to resolve their theory on developing a new sound. At the moment, it seemed easy to attach Los Amparito to the fraction. Time showed us Los Amparito had served a surrogate role to the realization of the sound. Since then, we have turned to Santos and Siete Catorce looking to complete the ruidosón triad (if only for mere romantic reasons as there’s plenty of room for both).
While Siete Catorce is already looking at what’s ahead of/for ruidosón, Santos is introspecting the primal skeleton of the sound and embedding it into long-lived narratives like that of banda music. Perhaps because we have just passed the birth and death anniversaries of Selena, but it’s hard not to think of “Techno Cumbia” when reading the title of Santos’ third album, Mi Technobanda. But whereas Selena was presenting a hybrid for mass consumption, Santos is aware of his resources, cleverly opting to offer a personalized experience of a style of music he’s clearly in love with. A thick, blood-curling organ line traces across the album’s opening piece “El Infierno.” Santos contemplates it for a moment but is quick to approach, confront, provoke and break it down. We can track that same organ line throughout the album, sometimes acquiring visibility (“Luna Llena”) and sometimes percolating as a ghostly echo to make room for vocals (“La Chinita”).
Santos unveils his entire toolbox (horns, cowbells, rattlesnakes) within a couple tracks inside the album. Nothing wrong with displaying your diegesis early on, but by the middle section of the record, Santos’ role becomes that of a stylist –flirting and repositioning his sound, and lacking surprise in the production. Santos’ newfound vocal ambition pays off for that structural flaw in big ways. When was the last time someone nuanced the word “sensual” and actually managed to sound sexy doing it? The vocal unfolding of Mi Technobanda is exciting and heroic; this includes the narcotized voice-of-reason found in “Éxtasis” and a couple conversations with the devil in “San Cristóbal” and “Romeo.” Santos is often referred as an understated artist (particularly when compared to his ruidosón peers). I think he had been been building up to deliver something as fulfilling as Mi Technobanda –an album that proves ruidosón is still going strong at a delightful level of indiscretion.