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Familia de Lobos – Familia de Lobos

Riot Season

Familia de LobosFamilia de Lobos is a six-piece from Buenos Aires formed in 2016 and their first album, released as a limited LP on Riot Season, is a fantastic mix of warm 1970s-inflected desert guitar music and more traditional Latin American sounds.

The group take their initial sound and look from the classic days of psychedelic rock, but though the look is beard, shades and leather, there is a lightness and leanness to the sound that perhaps belies their image. Throughout the seven tracks of this album, which runs to around forty minutes, the Spanish vocals lend an air of mystery to the proceedings. They are sweet and mellow, and seem to float in the desert breeze like a gentle sandstorm as around them, the band construct warming campfires to keep out the desert cold.

The guitars of opener “Todo Que Le Brilla” swirl like so much sand borne on the wind across a wide plain. The pre-Colombian equivalent of a flute which sits as a counterpoint to the guitars really does bring to mind the call of a wolf off in the distance, and to a certain extent gives a little explanation as to how the band arrived at their name. It is high and keening and adds further intrigue to the gently rolling rhythm. The flute seems to be keeping an eye on the vocals, tracking it across the desert floor, but without being fully spotted by those below. As the volume drops towards the end of the track, that feeling of being sat around a campfire in the gradual gloaming breaks over the listener. The track is infused with the warmth and the crackle of the fire, and that feeling continues throughout the album.

There are similarities to Calexico in the way the tracks evoke that widescreen panorama: scrubby bushes; vast, golden mountains towering in the distance; a train track just in the eye-line being the only link to humankind. The shimmering, reverb-y heat-haze of guitar of “El Viento Y La Luz” drifts in a delicious curl around your head as the rhythm, led by a delightful snare loaded with tambourine, evokes the rattlesnake hidden behind the rocks, moving gently and sinuously, a possible hidden danger, but one from which we are immune. The title translates as “The Wind And The Light”, and is perhaps the perfect title and description of the band’s sound.

Elsewhere, there is an almost Indian feel to the guitar drone on “Sangria” which, allied to the insinuating vocal presence, finds a dreamlike ambience overtaking the listener. But this is not just an album of one idea by any means. The desert atmospherics are dropped on “Familia De Lobos (Preludio)” and using acoustic guitar, the band plot a more folk-like path. The death march drums and ancient feeling comes on as if it were a sinister dance to draw out a demon. The final title track is the prefect closer. Droning and dreamlike, it takes the theme of the prelude to its conclusion, with mystery sounds echoing in the background as the guitar stretch and unfurl like lizards in the hot sun. The rhythm section keep everything from boiling over, moving at a sedate pace. The music doesn’t move too quickly; it doesn’t want to use too much energy in this unforgiving landscape, and seems to be shielding the listener from any misfortunes.

The band have made a lovely job of evoking the mysteries of the South American desert using both traditional pre-Colombian instruments and the warm valve sound so beloved of good guitar rock bands, but have also managed to infuse something of the spirit of their connection to their homeland. It is an warm and inviting introduction to a band with a lot to offer. If a night in the desert with little but starlight for company sounds like your cup of bitter coffee, then this album would be the perfect accompaniment,

-Mr Olivetti-

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