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Monotract - Trueno Oscuro

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Artist: Monotract

Album: Trueno Oscuro

Label: Load

Review date: May. 2, 2007

Monotract's release schedule has never been too crowded. In the near decade since the "Trafficant" 7" surfaced in 1998, the trio have birthed three studio albums, as well as a live disc and other audio ephemera in the form of cassettes, splits, and CD-Rs. In the noise community, where Monotract are most commonly categorized, such a selective and patient path to recording and releasing is certainly not the norm, and given the appearance of Trueno Oscuro less than a year after Xprmntl Lvrs, perhaps the group is ready to join the crowd. But even if the latter half of 2007 features a bi-weekly series of limited run cassettes and lathe-cut cereal boxes, Monotract won't be in danger of becoming anonymous drones in the ever burgeoning noise underground, as their particular brand of sound is something all their own, music that's predictable only in the sense that one is never quite sure what to expect.

Their sound has often been versed, no matter how twisted the final product, in rock music, and while Monotract are ever capable of some seriously warped noise, their most beguiling material has always been that which finds at its core some transmutation of conventional rock elements. Trueno Oscuro is the band's most straightforward effort yet, with more chance than ever that the listener will come upon steady beats, a verse/chorus structure, and even guitar hooks that are downright catchy. Songs' more subversive elements aren't always forced to the background, but there is a definite sense that Monotract have worked to harness their chaotic tendencies like never before, especially with respect to the music's rhythms. Roger Rimada's drumming is a force, often navigating the music's course with an unwavering bombast, urging on Carlos Giffoni's guitar and electronics, which, while still tending towards more abrasive tones, largely play nice within the songs to create some of the most unrelentingly heavy music that Monotract have ever made. What's even more notable, however, is the placid flow of "Under My Arm," in which Nancy Garcia's voice swims softly over a simple, ghostly rhythm more characteristic of a Björk record than Monotract's usual output. It's a starkly beautiful track, and while it remains the minority on an unrepentantly raucous disc, the song is one of Trueno Oscuro's more affecting.

Still, it's more forceful material on which the album hangs its hat, though the thunderous clamor of much of the disc is, at times, offset by the more moderate, though no less complex, dynamics of tracks like the frenetic "Cafu Y Koka" and the murky "The Ballad of Lechon." The aforementioned tracks disclose yet another novelty within Trueno Oscuro: whereas Garcia has traditionally handled the bulk of Monotract's singing duties, Giffoni, and to a greater degree, Rimada, contribute vocally more than ever before. It's not an earth-shattering development within Monotract's history, but simply another reminder that the band continue to hoard surprises up their transplanted Miamian sleeves.

Dusted's policy of full disclosure dictates that I mention that I've known the lady and gentlemen of Monotract for over five years, having first interviewed the trio in 2001. However, Monotract remain a easy band to write objectively about, namely because of the nature of their music; it's fluid enough that the band seem ever destined to generate mixed reviews, intent, it sometimes seems, on making sure that, for most listeners, there will exist a certain level of ambivalence toward their music. But, while any Monotract release contains, for many, some disconcerting, even irritating, elements and syntheses, this listener finds something consistently pleasurable in the trio's oft-perplexing oeuvre, the verve of a band with an unrepentant sense of musical polygamy, and no qualms about amalgamating into their sound whatever stylistic and conceptual components they see fit.

By Adam Strohm

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