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Blops - Locomotora CD (album) cover

LOCOMOTORA

Blops

 

Prog Folk

3.33 | 19 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Musically the last album from Los Blops is also their most mature, skillfully combining flute with more modern instruments like the 5-string bajo bass, numerous keyboards and the usual varied Latin percussion. The band seems to have finally found a sound that both works for them and is sonically engaging for broader audiences.

This is heavier album than the previous two, thanks mostly to the expanded bass sound and heavier use of snare drums than the in the past. The album opens with the highlight track, a nearly thirteen- minute instrumental “Allegro Ma Non Troppo” in which the band appears to employ both acoustic and synthesized flute sounds, or at least they’ve found some way to introduce a heavy and sustained vibrato in the flute that isn’t typically heard from that instrument. There is more than a little psychedelic as well as fusion influence in the music, although the drum solo toward the end is rather gratuitous and actually takes away from the swaying, hypnotic mood just a bit.

The entire album consists of only five tracks, with three of them running more than eight minutes each. “Tartaleta de Frutillas” is nearly nine minutes long, and here the mood shifts to a bit heavier rock sound with plenty of organ and smooth electric guitar. Still there are no vocals to speak of, although a couple members of the band offer wordless vocal accompaniment at times. Once again the bass plays a pivotal role in grounding the music.

The band seems to decide to launch into a somewhat restrained guitar freak-out with the title track, but here again the strong role of the organ (and piano in this case) offer some variety and interesting interplay with the guitar. Unlike so much South American prog music of this period, the band seems to have decided to all but abandon heavy Latin percussion in favor of the snare drums and cymbals, especially on this track.

I’m not sure exactly what type of organ is employed on “Piromano”, but this, the piano and the electric guitar blend in a three-way interaction that is more focused and grounded than anything the band had produced to this point. It’s quite surprising to go back to their comparatively primitive debut and hear the remarkable transformation to highly complex, keyboard-driven music after starting out as what appeared it would be simply another acoustic, vocal group. Eduardo Gatti is the star here with his electric guitar work that covers mildly folk, psych, folk and conventional rock territory, all in one composition.

I could have done without the spoken-word passages on the closing track “Sandokan”, but this is also the only song that features any vocals to speak of, and the sung parts of those are as good as the band’s debut in which singing was more prevalent. This starts off like its going to be a slower, bluesy number but like “Locomotora” it morphs into another guitar/bass/organ psych jam midway, which drags on until the end of both the song and the album. Maybe ‘drags’ is a bad word since the energy and skill displayed are once again show great maturity in the band over the few years since they began recording.

This is quite unlike other Chilean bands of the era like El Congreso, Los Jaivas and Congregacion who all tended closer to more traditional folk music. So did Los Blops at first, but this last album shows the extent to which they had grown beyond that and embraced more of the sounds of European and North American psych and acid folk. Easily a three star record, and close to (but not quite) four. Well recommended to fans of El Congreso, Los Jaivas and Congregacion; but also those who enjoy acid folk bands and even groups like Jethro Tull. Los Blops are a pleasant progressive treat that are sadly not well-enough known outside their native country (but should be).

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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