Review Summary: A solemn tale of flamenco and post rock
Merging a deeply rooted and traditional genre like flamenco with the monumental sound of post rock is no easy endeavor, but beyond the apparent disparity, the fusion of these two distant genres has proved to be a logical evolution in regards to Spanish music. Where the old meets the new and the young looks to the past in search for the vestiges and the bloodlines that somehow make them what they are today, Exquirla finds common ground for the two genres to co-exist.
Lagartija Nick, a mythical noise rock band from Granada (Spain) successfully did so in 1996 when collaborating with flamenco legend and sadly passed away Enrique Morente in "Omega", an album that symbolized the destruction of a wall between two long traditions within Spanish music and that became a unanimous object of cult for the ages to come. Even before that, in the '70s, the also Andalusian band Triana had already married progressive rock with flamenco, pioneering a formula that would be recreated years after by several modern bands like extraordinary flamenco and progressive rock outfit Elbicho or the outstanding trio (now duo) Orthodox, who managed to bring the concept a step further, infusing it with funeral doom and outrageous free jazz.
Exquirla, though, had no desire of telling a story already told. The project formed by the four members of Spanish post rock troopers Toundra and flamenco "cantaor" Niño de Elche surely had something else in mind when their forces converged to lay down the foundations of Para quienes aún viven
, an album based on a colossal poem called "La marcha de los 150.000.000" (March of the 150.000.000) written by Enrique Falcón in 2002 to portrait the horrors and brutalities caused by the Bosnian War ten years before.
Destruction, desolation, anguish and suffering are the imperative themes of Para quienes aún viven
, a feeling conveyed exceptionally by the tortured and wounded singing of Niño de Elche whose voice bursts and breaks in an agonizing cycle of despair through the 8 tracks that conform Exquirla's first and possibly only work. Songs that dwell and linger for no less than 8 minutes each, with the exception of the magical interlude "Contigo", the calming piece "Interrogatorio" and the ominous intro "Canción de E", where the words of the author Falcón introduce the listener into this devastating sonic wasteland while the band slowly begins to construct the first chapter of the album, "Destruidnos juntos".
There are very powerful moments in Para quienes aún viven
, passages that scratch your soul when confronted with the cruelty depicted in tracks like closer "Europa muda", where El Niño recites these words: "Return the corpse of my children/ the corpse of my children to their mother/the hair of my child ripped in two/When your daughter impaled in the pole/Tell me now who names you/ Tell me now who has won
." The lyrical strength throughout the album is parallel to the equally mighty aural passages created by the four members of Toundra, a blackened canvas that Niño de Elche paints with masterful strokes of orthodox flamenco as well as the visceral singing and screaming in the final moments of "Un Hombre".
Even if Para quienes aún viven
could stand by itself as a fantastic post rock record, it is that extra layer of folklore that melts with Exquirla's music, an influence that even transcends into their song crafting, what makes Para quienes aún viven
a very special album. The 3/4 tempo that carries songs like "Destruidnos Juntos" or "Hijos de la Rabia" works wonders when combined with post rock temperate patterns like the one in "Un Hombre", making this album something not strange to post rock fans, furthermore, it helps the occasionally daunting style to breath with a gust of fresh air and a much needed distinct touch.
Exquirla have created a masterpiece that may be very well be used in future years as a stepping stone for further experimentation, upholding the heavy legacy of flamenco music with the robust pillars of post rock and defining a new zenith in regards to genre fusion to give voice to those that history might have forgotten, but whose suffering and misery will be forever imprint in Para quienes aún viven