Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Antioquia: "Viajero" (2012) CD Review

Antioquia isn't going to gently woo you with their new CD, Viajero. This band is going to push you up against a tree and have its way with you. Then once you've been subdued, oddly, they do begin to woo you. Though by then you've already fallen for them, while they were ravishing you. Interestingly, this wasn't the impression they left me with when I saw them in concert several years ago. This CD surprised me. What I do remember is dancing and dancing, and yes, there are plenty of great rhythms on this album to get your feet moving (check out tracks 5 and 8 in particular). There is something unusual about the way this band approaches a song. Fans of Frank Zappa will likely dig what these guys are doing.  There is also something of B-52s element here. That being said, this band is truly its own entity, and is not trying to emulate anyone else. Not everyone is going to like this, but those who do are going to REALLY like it.  You know?


After an incredibly short (and totally unnecessary) introduction about a train approaching, the album kicks right in with "Idaho," with starts with several strong jabs - there is no easing in here - a heavy beginning, jumping right on top of you. This is not a pretty song. It's a song whose repetitive rhythm will take over, get control of you, toss you around a bit before the delightful and slightly goofy repetition of "Idaho." Things get a bit stranger, and by then you're completely immersed, so just go with it. And when they sing, "You're all crazy, just like me," you can't really argue. Toward the end there is some wild guitar and the repeated line, "Take me to Idaho" (a sentence I've never heard anyone say before).


"Sister" begins forcefully, with a great, aggressive dance beat and some kick-ass female vocals. Those then give way to odd quasi-theatrical delivery on the lines, "Take my sister by the hand, my sister by the hand/Show my sister love." But only briefly, then a drum roll leads back to an excellent, angry delivery on "You want the baby born but not supported/You want them for war just not aborted/A woman's womb is not a factory/And the children aren't your worker bees." I really dig the work by Craig Miller on drums.

"Who That Be?"

"Who That Be?" begins with some seriously cool percussion. This is a tribe led by a queen. Oh yes, I am loving these drums, and this is something I definitely remember from them when I saw them perform - great rhythms like this. But at two minutes, this track is too short.


"Mountains" is another strange song, with an unusual beat and some spoken word silliness as the vocalists play characters ("Good evening, Madam," "I love these special events").  This song ventures into a wonderful madness that makes me think this band should make a film and hand out acid to folks on their way into the movie theater (doors open forty-five minutes before showtime - only experienced trippers, please). All of that then gives way to a seriously catchy groove around four minutes in, and it will have you dancing. If that's not enough for you, there is then a good bit of funky rap: "I'm at a desk all day in analysis/My left side's developed paralysis/My brain must be covered in calluses/'Cause I didn't grow up in no palaces."  And the answer to it all is to go back to the mountains.

"No Sleep Til Oakland"

More great percussion begins "No Sleep Til Oakland," with some spoken word over it, like a radio broadcast ("But I do know that art, in my own case the art of poetry, means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds us hostage"), before the song kicks in. And when it kicks in, the wonderful percussion doesn't cease, and actually becomes even more prominent later in the song, near the end.

"There's A Man Jumping Off The Planet"

"There's A Man Jumping Off The Planet" is a cool tune with a reggae beat during the verses. This is really fun song, and features some nice work on sax. The countdown/takeoff chaos at the end throws the song off course, veering from the good groove it established. But other than that, it's really good.


This album features three instrumental tracks, all of which are relatively short.  The first, "Attack of The Killer Balafon," is a strange, almost timid-sounding tune, like stepping tentatively into a dark land. "Dibon" and "Kassa-Nisoro" are short percussion instrumentals featuring traditional rhythms.

"Back To The Mountains"

Viajero concludes with "Back To The Mountains," an odd track which starts with the band fucking around, and then performing a cappella the end of "Mountains," but riffing on that theme in a way that's quite a bit different from the earlier track.

CD Track List
  1. Now Approaching
  2. Idaho
  3. Attack Of The Killer Balafon
  4. Sister
  5. Who That Be?
  6. Steamship Enterprise
  7. Mountains
  8. No Sleep Til Oakland
  9. Rage Of Love
  10. Dibon
  11. Donde Quiere
  12. There's A Man Jumping Off The Planet
  13. Kassa-Nisoro
  14. Back To The Mountains

Antioquia is Rachel Antony-Levine on vocals, keyboard and shekere; Adley Penner on vocals, guitar, dun dun and gong; Tomas Salcedo on vocals, guitar and dun dun; Paul Martin on vocals, bass guitar, upright bass and dun dun; and Craig Miller on vocals, drums, djembe and balafon.  Joining them on this release are Jesse Sheehan on saxophone and Ben Isaacs on djembe.

Viajero was released on May 1, 2012.

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