`Unlike more purist roots artists, they're unconcerned with notions of authenticity; they're more interested in the serendipitous magic that occurs between genres'
Los Lobos Colossal Head Warner Bros 9362-46172-2
Friday 29 March 1996
Like their 1992 masterpiece Kiko, Los Lobos's Colossal Head is brimful with ideas and invention, as the group try on styles and sounds in unusual locations and odd combinations, stretching the envelope of acceptability several ways at once. Always a tremendous live band, they have the kind of facility that comes from peerless technique and wide-ranging musical vocabulary: they could knock out perfect polkas and meticulous mariachis all day long, but where would be the fun in that? Unlike more purist roots artists, they're unconcerned with notions of authenticity, or fidelity to approved methods: like Ry Cooder, they're more interested in blurring the lines between styles, and stumbling across the serendipitous magic that occurs between genres. It's an exploratory cast of mind: rather than labour diligently at the replication of a pre-existent music - as The High Llamas do, below - they search out kinds of music that have never existed before.
Colossal Head seethes with strange new music. Even the more direct numbers are given an unusual spin: the streamlined samba-rock of "Mas Y Mas" has a devilish fire and bounce, while the bluesy swing of "Everybody Loves A Train" is semi-obscured by a spoken vocal that's part Lord Buckley, part station announcer. The more complex tracks, though, have their own order of sophistication. The title-track blends stalking blues guitar with deep, burring horns and weird processional strings and vocals: the result, full of the awe and mystery of the title, is reminiscent of the Mexican "easy listening" genius Esquivel. Surging in a completely different direction, "Maricela" applies Steely Dan chords, clarinet and accordion to a slinky mariachi beat, producing something that seems to come from all over the world at once: equal parts pert cumbia shuffle and enigmatic Balkan dignity.
In a week when virtually every other release is doing its utmost to appear familiar, the questing integrity of Colossal Head stands proudly above the crowd. I'm willing to wager that, come December, it'll still sound like nothing else you've ever heard.
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 3 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 4 Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
- 5 Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabaab militants kill 28 non-Muslims who failed to recite Koran
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Beyoncé '7/11' music video: Star bounces on bed in low-fi homage to viral video
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track