Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Alla - Es Tiempo (2008)

3.5 ★/7.0 - 7.9

While Stereolab's past two or three albums have proven that Tropicalia-tinged, Electronica leaning, polyrhythmic groove-oriented indie pop will probably never die, the acclaimed French super-groop has been known to fail in the past. And in the event that this year's Chemical Chords turns out to be one of those unfortunate instances, a practically unknown Chicago three-piece with latin origin is already prepared to take the reigns. But even if Stereolab finds enough of a variation to keep their style sounding vital, there's still something distinctive about Alla that makes them equally enjoyable as, rather than overshadowed by, the highly regarded band that they'll undoubtedly be compared to. While Es Tiempo begins in the same polyphonic, hook-laden ballpark with "Una Dia Otra Noche," the album soon breaks apart and reforms in tangles of soothingly narcotic instrumental stretches. They become more post-rock in terms of song-structure and more prone to jam out, clear from tracks such as the spiraling "Tu y Yo," the druggy "Sazanami," and the relaxing "La Montana Sagrada." On tracks like "Tu Vida!" and "El Movimiento" they reveal a fondness for trip hop with touches of samples, scratching and high energy drumming, like their Chicago neighbors, Tortoise. The Sea and Cake makes a similar cameo apperance on ""No Duermas Mas," which adopts jazzy chords to induce an inescapable tranquilizing warmth. The end result is that, compared to the usual desensitization of emotion and exhaustion that comes out of listening to too much Stereolab, Alla's psychedellic washes of sound leave behind a startlingly fresh, subtle and substantive mark. There's variety here, and an attention to album craft that is usually lacking even in the "Krautpop" godfathers' best albums.

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