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Los Llamarada - Take the Sky

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Artist: Los Llamarada

Album: Take the Sky

Label: S-S

Review date: Jan. 26, 2009

Given the way we obtain and listen to music today, it’s just as likely that Los Llamarada’s second LP, Take the Sky, will be played via tinny laptop speakers as it will through a turntable and out of a stereo receiver, or through the headphones running out of an MP3 player. No matter the intake, nothing will be lost; with this album, it would seem, the more primitive the system, the better equipped it is to deal with this band’s smeared, full-forward, maiming sound.

Discovered on MySpace by S-S Record’s Scott Soriano, Los Llamarada has been pressing on as an operating entity in Monterrey, Mexico, since the early days of this decade. Their initial approach was documented on 2006’s full-length The Exploding Now, an effort adrift in murky tones, obscured approaches, and most of all, itself. To consider that record would require a consideration of what they are up against; an avant-garde, anti-normative musical agenda that, as part of their daily lives, must take a backseat to every other aspect of their modes of expression. The shared experience of creating lies solely between the creators themselves, who are cognizant of the dangers that lie in releasing music before its time. There’s no real way for this band to test out material on anyone but each other and a handful of acolytes, and the restlessness that this vacuum inspires has pushed Los Llamarada – vocalist Sagan, keyboardist EK Sanza, guitarist Johny Noise and drummer Danyhell – into an introspective journey of frustrated, white-knuckled abandon. In their Destined feature from early 2008, the group mentioned that in an early practice, they tried and failed to perform the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” as it sounds on the record; the concept of structure as applied to another band’s material seems entirely lost on them.

It’s not a surprise, then, that Take the Sky feels a bit arbitrary in how many of its 11 tracks begin or end. What sets their sound apart from their last album, as did their single “The Very Next Moment” (2007’s finest 7”), is force. Four-track recording dynamics being what they are, Los Llamarada have located their metaphysical sweet spot, and celebrate that discovery by way of bashing in its skull. Nothing is all too traditional about their sound, at least not up until the last 20 years or so. Given the newness of their dialect, then, most of Take the Sky’s impact is brought about by aggression alone. Saturated, shrapnel-like guitar rips right up the middle. Trash rock drums pound out the sex beat. Vocals are delivered in a nasal monotony best likened to those of Mark E. Smith, pinning the tension between the instruments to taunting heights. The synths and piano provide some of the more delicate moments in an otherwise brusque album; creepy, spectral tones rise out of a bed of background din (“Ten to Dawn) or add a percussive element (the bone xylophone crossbeat of “I’ve Got Your Face”) to the thrash. They’re miles away from traditions of angry music, perhaps by intent, but Take the Sky was designed to bruise, and potentially to slice.

At the core of their sound is the blues, and you hear it behind an indigestible, skin-searing blast of slide guitar in “I Go Away,” and fully present in the somber closing track “A Chance to Become Transparent.” Here, Sagan rants a little less emphatically around the title, and an opportunity to leave “the visible world,” the piano seething behind him in tinkling interruptives, the guitar a mean, low-slung wander through nowhere. It calls to mind similar missives of cloudy angst offered up by the Sun City Girls. Given that the rest of their album aligns with the music of the Dead C., who started out by building a similar sound from noisy improvisations inspired by the fatal reveal of concealed weaponry, it works as a device, an agent of their rage, both simplistic and effective.

As narrow as their frame may be, Take the Sky is primary evidence that Los Llamarada have found a purpose in playing music, and are comfortable with attacking it out of dissatisfaction. Such stances bring out an honesty missing completely from pop music and even most underground and experimental acts, a meticulous and necessary cross-examination of what it means to be in a band and play at the very fringe of order. To appreciate Take the Sky is to concede to its anger. It is music designed to consume you, and if you are strong enough to make it to the end, you’ll understand why that has to happen; why there’s always someone in a crowd who’s compelled to shove.

By Doug Mosurock

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