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April 20, 2009

Savath y SavalasLa Llama (Stones Throw, 2009)

This latest release from Guillermo Scott Herren and collaborator Eva Puyuelo Muns is a trip into Latin folk psychedelia, mixing the past and the modern. Since the last LP, 2007’s Golden Pollen, they have been joined by new member Roberto Carlos Lang, and found inspiration for this new record in Brazilian sounds from the early seventies.

It can be the case sometimes that Herren’s name precedes Savath y Savalas. He releases records under a couple of names, and is, of course, best known for his work as Prefuse 73, a project which helped establish him as one of the more innovative, adventurous producers on the scene. A reputation that is always proven further with the explorative Savath y Savalas records. What happens when his name precedes a record, even though he’s always stated that none of his projects are to be considered related, is the hip-hop mode of the Prefuse 73 project tends to be foremost in the listener’s mind. Though there are touches of it in the production, Savath y Savalas is not a hip-hop thing. Rather, it is a mix of psychedelic approach, old and new, blending up folk and electronic styles.

This particular release is a mellow collection of songs that feature electronic and acoustic elements. There’s some computery, skittery production in places, great vocal performances (all done in Spanish and Catalan), and nice melodies floating in layers of haze. There are quite a few sounds used on this, but not many of them are used at any one time, giving the record a spacious, languid feel. On the Stones Throw page, Herren said of  the record: “[W]e wanted to explore previous atmospheres while creating new music with a strong grip on its timeless elements.” Whether we interpret that to mean the sounds they drew inspiration for the record from, or continuity with the previous Savath y Savalas releases, or both, they’ve managed to achieve what they set out to do. The record presents some development for the group, but if you’ve enjoyed their previous works, you can likely dig this one too. Perhaps what’s most remarkable about it, though, is its musical, cultural, and generational fusion, taking sounds from different places and times and constructing something new with them.

It is available now as a digital release over at the Stones Throw page, and physical copies are due out next month.

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