Music Reviews

El Guapo

The Geography of Dissolution

Mud Memory

On this, their second release and first on the Mud Memory label, El Guapo continues their exploration between the areas of free jazz and loose hardcore rhythms. Once upon a time, their music straddled these two areas much more strongly, but on this release, they have largely abandoned any hardcore tempos and instead choose to explore the realms of improvisation and free jazz.

As far as the music goes, this disc contains two concerts recorded live, and reflects their different approaches to music. The first set is from a show they performed at The Black Cat in Washington, DC. At times, one hears a singer, but the voice is so low in the mix that it becomes another instrument. The songs begin and end abruptly, and with the use of keyboards, glockenspiel, and accordion, they songs take on a strange dream like quality.

The second concert recorded here, from a performance at The Tonic in New York, finds them exploring the further dimensions of sound and noise. Unfortunately, what appears to be an interesting live set comes off dull and flat in the context of this recording. Track by track, the tension builds until we reach the information session. Technology and emulation, video games on the brain waves, and software piracy. Huh?

At its best, this release finds a group of musicians slowly exploring the realm of free jazz and rock. At its worst, this release reflects some of the pretense currently afflicting some of what passes for indie and post-rock. Nonetheless, it should appeal to fans of Tortoise and the like.

Mud Memory Records, 1654 Monroe Street NW, Washington, DC 20010;

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