Is this still music? Let’s find out.
In the past years we have talked about quite a few difficult sounding albums but none have sounded as challenging like this latest USA/Mexico release. It will be difficult to put into words but as stubborn as we are going to try it anyway. Get ready to be disintegrated!
USA/Mexico hails from the Texas noise rock scene and is a supergroup that consists of three members. Craig Clouse (guitar), Nate Cross (bass) and Jeffrey ‘King’ Coffey (drums). Especially King Coffey’s name catches the eye because he is a core member of the infamous Butthole Surfers. Although Butthole Surfers became sort of mainstream in the 90s, their real shock rock legacy was cemented in the decade before as they ruled the American underground noise scene. Since 2017 USA/Mexico has been a member of the same scene. We first heard them on their punishing sophomore album Matamoros two years ago. Del Rio however goes beyond being just punishing. Faint-hearted who are still reading this would be wise to save your own soul, so turn away right now or be prepared to be blown into pieces.
Del Rio consists of three tracks that together take about 35 minutes to complete. For the first time in their short history the album features vocals from new member, professional blacksmith Colby Brinkman. Now, let’s try and say something meaningful about Chorizo, Soft Taco and Del Rio.
With four-and-a-half minutes, Chorizo is the shortest of the three-track project. Without intro or whatsoever USA/Mexico kicks in doom-driven guitars, low heaving and brutal slow drumming. Everything you hear here is in sonical overdrive. The group seems to make a statement with these first minutes: we’re back, we’re more evil than ever and if you don’t turn this off right now we will destroy your soundsystem. After the first few ear drum pummeling minutes we of course decided to stick around for Soft Taco.
As we expected Soft Taco isn’t soft at all. We would say this track would fit nicely as a soundtrack to a Youtube video of a taco that is slowly burning, turning black and eventually starts disintegrating. In 13 minutes Soft Taco scrapes itself along the edges of noise and industrial. Under the command demanding drumming, feedback, biting noise, distant screaming and gritty riffs form up hulking sound that doesn’t seem to progress. After a few minutes we even wondered if our speakers were still holding out to his relentless beating. Luckily they did, but wow this kind of monumental noise is truly of the elusive kind.
The maelstrom further deepens on the title cut Del Rio. After a heavy-handed beginning we first hear the clear, or better said gruffy, roars from Brinkman. Cavernous bass, evil howling vocals and face-melting riffs slowly sets a scene of death and destruction. Closer Del Rio is like walking along with Godzilla on his path of rampage for 16 minutes. During the final minutes the fury doom comes to a standstill as more and more gritty loudness is added to the mix. A shrieking guitar serves as a dagger which ultimately causes this monolithic juggernaut to collapse.
Now that we wrote some words about the separate tracks we realize it’s pointless endeavor to go about this one track-by-track. Just like the other works of USA/Mexico you have to take this one in as a whole. Don’t expect a fun listen. To most USA/Mexico works will have nothing to do with music and for the sake of the argument we will agree to that. Del Rio is the group’s best effort up until today, but you’re if able to hear beyond the monotone beating of Del Rio. It took us a few spins but eventually we even surprisingly heard something in Del Rio that we can best describe as sluggishly easeful.
If you’re not familiar with this type of experience but are still interested we do not recommend to start your reconnaissance of this genre with USA/Mexico. First check out if earlier work from Butthole Surfers is to your liking and from there take a step into the modern droning classics made by Earth or Boris. If you’re still hooked and also enjoy the experiments of Sun O))) or even Merzbow, we think it’s a good time to open yourself up to the evil of USA/Mexico. Godspeed!
Label:12XU/Riot Season, 2021
Buy it here: https://riotseasonrecords.bandcamp.com/album/del-rio
- Chorizo (4:35)
- Soft Taco (13:06)
- Del Rio (16:28)
Review by Wander Meulemans // 090521