It didn’t took the Meridian Brothers long to drop a new release after last years “alright” Salvadora Robot. The ensemble’s search to deepen their distinctive tropical sound is of an exhaustive kind. This time around Eblis Álvarez et al got inspired to set up an organ-inspired trilogy and Los Suicidas serves as its first part. Indeed, all of this essentially means that you will have to get ready for a fever pitch all over again. Get set and let’s plunge into all out blurriness at the end of the year, shall we?
Meridian Brothers’ new brainchild sprouts from the work of the Colombian legend Hammond organist specialist, Jaime Llano Gonzalez (now 83), who became locally famous for playing ambient interpretations of South-American traditionals such as pasillo, bambuco, cumbia and combined this with foxtrots or waltzes. Thus, Gonzalez was a master of experiment in his days. Reason enough for Álvarez to put the good man on a pedestal.
Los Suicidas’ autumnal release seems to be directly linked to the album’s opener. ‘Vértigo’s ’, backdrop sounds like multi-coloured leaves are falling from the trees whilst Super Mario happily jumps around underneath: off-tempo samba, 8-bit keyboards and looped drum computers, it’s all there to set tone for the other 7 tracks to come. As one could expect ‘Vértigo’ was just a small teaser. ‘Delerio’ and the consecutive ‘Contienda’ are a very deep trip into a carnival of madness with no escape exits. Somewhere amidst ‘Delerio’s’ proceedings the tumbling keyboards are scared away for a moment by a semi out-of-tone voice. Almost directly the tempo is mercilessly geared up to a to an itchy level which suddenly breaks into a slowmo version of underwater samba. Yep.., Álvarez enjoys playing with your mind without giving you a moment to take a breath. At the moment you’ve got your head out of the water again a growl whips you back into centre stage of the carnival. On ‘Contienda’ , sharp organs, whacking cumbia rhythms together with various growls and snappy palmas clapping make you feel like a circus animal that’s dutifully performs some tricks at Álvarez’ his will.
It must be said Los Suicidas is not only about Jaime Llano Gonzalez. References to electronica pioneers such as Raymond Scott and Bruce Haack are also there in the form of wobbly rhythms and hard-cutting keyboards. Especially during the second part of the album the wobbliness is given more room. Although the carnival continuous with ‘Idilio’, the pace is settled down a bit. The track sets off as a vintage bolero that eventually tries the find a balance between steadily grooving and a restless swirling. The remainder of the album also alternates on the aforementioned thin line. ‘Lágrima’ is a good example of the first and reminds me of the ensemble’s earlier tropical work as ‘Cazador‘ again is a delirium of fast cumbia. Los Suicidas ending ‘Amargura’, which means bitterness in Spanish is not bitter at all. The use of synths and tight organ play still give away a feeling of brightness. However of all tracks it’s rhythm is more down key and structured, making the transition back to full conscious a pleasant one.
Now let me do the math for you: leaves in all colours plus Super Mario plus a mad carnival plus underwater samba plus circus animals, times, wicked organ play plus 8-bit keyboards plus cumbia plus growls plus snappy clapping which we need to divide by Jaime Llano Gonzalez equals out in Los Suicidas. That’s right Meridian Brothers again succeed to drop a work of utterly burliness, estrangement and most of all, …plain fun. Álvarez keeps on turning table after table between and within his albums. Thus, Los Suicidas also differs from it’s predecessor Salvadora Robot. The latter was a patchwork of latin styles whilst this year’s album is more of a consistent nature but simultaneously spins out of total control. That said, I believe the ensemble’s latest reorientation is stunning, making Los Suicidas a worthy first instalment of an exciting trilogy in the works.
Label: Soundway Records, 2015
- Vértigo (3:24)
- Dinámita (3:46)
- Delirio (3:30)
- Contienda (3:29)
- Idilio (3:29)
- Lágrima (3:12)
- Cazador (3:48)
- Amargura (4:23)
Review by Wander Meulemans // 201215