ECUADOR: Larutanatural - Cementerio De Elefantes
Alternative rock with a few fun twists - but does it impress?
Listening to this album when sitting down in front of a blank Word document was a lovely surprise, even though it should not have been. Even though I had listened to it several times about half a year ago, I could not remember a single thing about the album, aside from that I remembered liking it enough though I did find it a bit repetitive. Danny and I have been scrambling through an immense mine of albums over the past 18 months, picking up the various flecks of gold and nuggets of precious stone that come my way and sharing them with each other. And we’re still digging deep, and we’re still finding stone cold classics as yet previously unknown to us or previously uncovered by us. It is, therefore, somewhat understandable that some of the smaller gems can get lost in the mix. That’s what Larutanatural is. Highly enjoyable, but it has been lost in the fray. Listening back to it several times over the past few days has shown me that my initial appraisal (of what little I could remember of it) was slightly unfair, with ‘repetitive’ being entirely the wrong word to use for this album. This is indeed a very good album, with much to commend it.
“It’s very enjoyable, accomplished, fun, listenable, and of a solidly high quality throughout.”
I had a vague memory that the music on this album was in the vein of eléctrica selvática, a kind of electronic ambient music that takes a lot of inspiration from Andean and Amazonian music and themes, and while that is certainly an aspect of Cementerio De Elefantes’ music but a rather minor one in the grand scheme of things, and while they manage to incorporate a wide range of genres throughout the album, the overall vibe is that of alternative rock. The opening track, 0:00 Am, is indie rock veering towards post-rock at times, whereas the song immediately after it, Mundo Surreal, is a folk-rock tune with a dash of shoegaze music, and Estelar is a rousing funk rock song with an indie edge reminiscent of early Killers. It would be reductive to go through the entire album in this way, but they manage to put their spin on several styles of music, and do so with aplomb. In particular, I am fond of the song Elefantes, where there is both a gorgeous jazzy guitar solo, as well as rock guitar licks that add to melancholic yet energetic tone. For me at least, it was this refreshingly unusual mix of elements that made revisiting the album so enjoyable, and it is present throughout the album. The one small issue is that it never propels them into the realm of the truly spectacular.
I think this album’s consistency is both its blessing and its curse. On the one hand, it’s very enjoyable, accomplished, fun, listenable, and of a solidly high quality throughout, but on the other hand, the lack of any stand out tune or any wildly memorable songs allow the album to almost fall under the radar, never quite hitting any spectacular highs that lodge themselves indelibly in the memory. But, again, they also never hit any spectacular lows (or indeed, any noticeable lows), and to my mind, that has to count for something. Larutanatural is only Cementerio De Elefantes’ first album, and there’s no real reason why the trajectory of the musical quality of their albums should go anywhere but up. They released a follow up effort last year which I have not listened to, but when simply regarding the musical skill on show on Larutanatural, it’s possible that in their most recent album or perhaps in albums yet to be released they will finally hit that magical sweet spot between competence and brilliance.