Últimos días del tren fantasma, 107 Faunos
Discos Laptra, Argentina
by Carlos Reyes
“A regression in concept and pop veracity” –was my response to 107 Faunos’ promotional cut “Cosas Caras Rotas.” As a sole offering, the one-minute-and-a-half track seemed half-cooked and antagonistic to what had been accomplished in the expansive greatness of previous single “El Tigre de las Facultades” (from El tesoro que nadie quiere). Fragile and unconvincing as a single, one comes to realize 107 Faunos was actually winking at all of us offering an anti-single of sorts –one that’s difficult for non-fans to grab and challenging for bloggers to articulate about. “Cosas Caras Rotas” acquires visibility and a whole yarn of virtue as part of Últimos días del tren fantasma, the third LP (going by the amount of tracks rather than running time) and most accomplished record the Argentine band has offered us thus far.
Do we have to keep digging into the intentions behind 107 Faunos’ obsession at crafting snippets rather than round songs? Maybe we should embrace the cult and look past it already, but when a band attains to a reputation of not following recognizable structures, the critic must consider this as an earnest provocation (at the very least). The band surpassed the three-minute mark not once but twice on their last EP, which redirected us to calling it their most adult record yet. With their latest record, the band rejects prescribed expectations keeping the tracks near the two-minute mark. Unfortunately there isn't a grand peak single for the masses. This doesn’t mean the band is rewinding on the maturity of their discourse, if anything, it strengthens their artistic assertion. Not that it makes the music any less subversive (the lyrics for one can get to be quite eccentric).
Últimos días del tren fantasma doesn’t acquire greatness just because the band sticks to its guns. Their previous works seemed to shade away into existential despair, but this time around they’re employing human effort as the vehicle to encounter grandeur. And by this, I’m referring to the warmth and execution of their unlikely melodies. Take for example, the improvement of Javier Sisti Ripoll’s vocals in this record. The man still has a near-unpleasant voice, but listen at how he expands his voice to parallel the lyrics in the intro. “Vision de aire que agiganta y enfurece las cosas,” he sings as he swells and raptures his low voice to a near falsetto. In “Por ir a comprar” the chord progressions escalate to the stars, and in “Jazmín chino,” they somehow trigger your sense of smell through your ears. Like the burgeoning of the vocals, it seems just about every other technical element (not to mention the aesthetics) of 107 Faunos has come of age.
All of us critics love to conclude middling album reviews hinting potentially better things to come. But in all honesty, that rarely happens. It’s refreshing to see a band grow in their discourse and diegesis as opposed to the usual band that knocks it out of the park with a debut album and follows it with variants of decay. 107 Faunos’ nuanced journey makes for a better story. If something had us reviewing each one of their releases throughout the years (without us ever really raving about them) was the promise that sustained the uncalled, perhaps expandable empathy towards the understated band. Mostly whimsical, although at times on a deadpan tone, Últimos días del tren fantasma hardly negotiates with the zeitgeist or the idiosyncratic. In fact, they chop the spacious discourses of their much-celebrated peers (Él Mató a un Policía Motorizado, Valentín y Los Volcanes, Los Reyes del Falsete) and not only get away with it, but sound truly proud of their own bearings.