Here’s some good news: Eblis Álvarez and his gamely fellows are back! Not that we’ve haven’t heard from Bogotá’s finest for a while though… Only a few months ago Meridian Brothers reintroduced themselves with the compilation album Devoción which was a follow up to their most recent work Desesperanza (2012). Salvadora Robot is the latest addition to their lively and dense catalogue and saw the light of day earlier this month. And yes, just for a tease, a whole new carnivalesque hallucination awaits us.
Holy crap, I’m not sure if I’m gonna survive this review because Salvadora Robot starts at a murdering pace with the nerve racking, merengue inspired ‘Somos Los Residentas’. Overheated percussion, short burst of clarinets, horns, and frantic keyboard play tumbles over each other. Next to this Álvarez himself is blurting along and somewhere in the middle welcomes us to his madcap carnival with a very worrisome laugh. There’s no time to recover from the shock for next up is the albums title track, which is steeped by some contagious bass loops and distorted high life guitars and is then followed by the stressy salsa of ‘De Mi Caballo, Como Su Carne’. Frankly I’m already experiencing the first signs of dyspnea after these first tracks, but nevertheless the party continues without any remorse for the weak and sensitive. Salvadora Robot’s midpiece is filled with cartoonish synth lines, demanding congo drums and obscure samples are melted together to a twisted form of Caribbean dem bow. Wait a minute…, did I really hear a bunch of birds screaming on ‘El Gran Pájaro de los Andes’? Hm, anyway, the album’s longest haul, ‘La tristeza – invitando a Salvadora’ offers some much needed holdfast for a moment for the hypno-style and pace-changes of its predecessor are prominent here. All other resemblances with Desesperanza end about here as well for the album closing tracks a just as eclectic as its openers. The weary ‘Jefe Indio Vengara’ and the sweaty overpitched ‘El Festival Vallenato’ are truly each other opposites, however both cuts don’t add anything new. ‘Baile Último – Del Preso Que Va a la Silla Eléctrica por Ofensa a la Moral Colombiana’, does grab more of your attention. Firstly, the electronica filled track seems to be designed to sound like a ramshackled bicycle. It’s slow, foul and out of tune in many ways. Secondly, and more important, Álvarez cynically criticises his government by singing about a man who is sent to death for dancing to reggaeton, a genre that’s prohibited in Colombia. Well, luckily I’m still here.
We already knew Meridian Brothers is not the band that draws between the lines. Surrealism is possibly the band’s most greatest asset to latin psychedelica. Salvadora Robot does not essentially differs from this. Yet, when comparing it to Desesperanza, this new release is a beehive of activity. Desesperanza was in fact the birth record of a whole new genre called ‘hypno-salsa’ whilst Salvadora Robot is a return to some free improvisation. Each track contains a different Latin American style and carries an unique Meridian Brothers stamp. So I’m happy with that, while on the other hand I have to say Salvadora Robot isn’t for everyone, simply because nothing fits together.
Salvadora Robot is an addition to the Meridian Brother’s discography, notwithstanding that fans who already own one or two Meridian Brothers albums should wonder if a purchase is really necessary. However If you’re in need of some all out trippy craziness, you better crawl to your local record store right now.
Label: Soundway Records, 2014
- Somos los Residentes (5:39)
- Salvadora Robot (4:41)
- De Mi Caballo, Como Su Carne (6:10)
- Un Principe Miserable y Malvado (4:11)
- Doctor Trompeta (4:57)
- El Gran Pájaro de los Andes (Instrumental) (4:35)
- La Tristeza – Invitando a Salvadora (7:35)
- Jefe Indio Vengará (5:28)
- Baile Último – Del Preso Que Va a la Silla Eléctrica por Ofensa a la Moral Colombiana (5:09)
- El Festival Vallenato (4:23)
Review by Wander Meulemans // 230614