Space-Age Latin Rock


Argentina may be more well-known for its political turmoil than rock and roll, which is not surprising, since such figures as the Peróns, Che Guevara and Jorge Luis Borges hail from the southernmost South American country. But Argentina is also the home to some really great rock bands, and one of those bands is Babasónicos, who will be educating us in the ways of rock en español at Club Congress Sunday night.

Babasónicos, who cut their teeth on the Latin rock scene way back in 1992, have opened for INXS and Depeche Mode and released four records. The most recent, Jessico, on Sony International, combines the best aspects of synth pop and traditional rock with just a twist of traditional Argentinian flavor.

The band named themselves after both a Hindu guru and The Jetsons (called Los Super Sonicos in Spanish), which explains their compounding of musical styles: Think Hindu gurus in futuristic housing. Babasónicos seem to change musical styles almost every 30 seconds, making each song completely distinct; subsequently, Jessico plays like a great mix tape that your Spanish-speaking friend made for you. For example, there's a song called "Pendejo" that goes from a basic punk rock riff to space rock and back again without the slightest hint of jet lag. Then the next song begins and it's a sweet pop song with bongo drums. But mid-song, "El Loco" expands with horns and a wailing electric guitar, setting you up for the next transition back to straight guitar rock with the next track, "La Fox." The most interesting switch happens in "Yoli;" the song starts out like a traditional Argentinian tango and then a strange clipping noise is thrown in and the band magically turns into Echo and the Bunnymen.

Babasónicos are fond of making you think the song is going one way and then turning it in the opposite direction. But sometimes, as if to mess with your mind even more, they stick with the groove. "Rubi" is a beautiful Latin-style cancíon: Adrián Rodgríguez's voice can effectively growl "pendejo" as well as croon a mean love song, and you don't doubt his sentiments in either case.

Nevermind if you can't understand most of the lyrics--rumor has it that Babasónicos kind of make up some words anyway. ("Delectrico" doesn't really mean anything, although it sounds cool.) Music is, after all, a language understood by all, and Babasónicos have a firm grasp of many musical languages, enough to speak to just about anyone.

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