Lately things don’t seem the same…

1135287621-_DSC0243-(1)-copyI can’t remember whether I’ve blogged about these before. I suspect not, I really should’ve, they are bonkers…

Meridian Brothers

Actually, I’m saying “they”, but the Meridian Brothers is actually the nom-de-guerre of an irrefutably odd Columbian known to his mother as Eblis Alvarez, who’s just had a third European album released by the modish, with-it folk of Soundway – Salvadora Robot.

Alvarez is based in Bogota and although he clearly has a big US record collection, his Meridian Brothers sound is pretty firmly rooted in Columbia and more particularly in the goofy but glorious Amazonian psychedelia that is Chicha. Giant snare drums, over-active cowbells, electric guitars, shakers and graters all build up what is an unmistakeably Latin sound.

Proceedings are dominated, however, by the telepathic interplay between a spectacularly off-kilter organ sound and Alvarez’ wonky guitar work which threads and weaves through each song. It’s a weird, unnatural sound which in other circumstances, you’d be thinking was maybe spooky and other-worldly but, given the Technicolor chaos going on around it, the “other worlds” would be more like Wizard of Oz than Outer Limits.

Witness the eccentricity of the Meridian Brothers (and, while you’re at it, enjoy the shirts…):


To be fair, giddy and slightly daft they may at times sound, I’m pretty sure there’s something jolly clever going on here. I’m no musician, and have no understanding whatsoever of how music actually works so the best I can suggest is that it’s as if each note or chord has slid along a couple of notches on the musical stave. The result is that, although it sounds all wrong, once you’re up to speed with it, everything’s still in place, relative to each other, and still “works” in this parallel, Munchkin world.

As if this wasn’t disconcerting enough, instruments and especially vocals are routinely dragged through various Joe Meek-style phasers, whoozers and all manner of other Seussical devices that tweak, distort and generally bewilder the ear.

It’s all pretty demented stuff and Salvadora Robot is certainly a whole lot of fun, but in the absence of anything good on YouTube from it, finish off by taking a look at last year’s champeta slant on Purple Haze:


Help me, help me…

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