From the opening sounds of a slightly off-key guitar, if I had not known that this was recorded by friends of mine in Santiago, Chile, I’d have concluded that I was listening to an unfamiliar (to me) Mississippi Records curated compilation of guitar music from a long time ago in a place far far away. But then a repetitive melody starts to build-up while a slowly grinding screech comes in. The screech could be a violin, but it sounds like the violinist forgot to rosin his bow because he is scratching the shit out of those strings. Then a melody slowly rises from the cacophony and it all starts to come together and you immediately think this could be some lost room recording of a pre-fully-formed Velvet Underground (VU) Lou Reed and John Cale jamming late one night. Trying to not get too crazy so as to not wake up the neighbors. A fitting reference since the title of this missive from the smog covered hills of Santiago is “Carta a Maureen Tucker” or “A Letter to Maureen Tucker” in the English language. The second track, “Noche de San Juan” is far more trance-like than the first. There is repetitive guitar strumming, what sounds like someone typing on a typewriter in the background, and that screeching violin. There’s a flute too. The title of the song is relevant, in that “Saint John’s Eve” is a Catholic celebration loaded with mystical and pagan mojo since it coincides with the June solstice. Chile is a Catholic country although it doesn’t much seem like it these days. Most people only go to church about 3 times in their lives. When they get baptized, when they get married and then when they die. Ok, that’s not true. You probably also go to church when someone else you know gets baptized, married or dies. I don’t think neo-paganism has become a thing in Chile and I bet these guys don’t give a rat’s ass about that anyways. So I’ll have to conclude that the title has something to do with local folk traditions. Anyways, it’s trance music, very cult-ish, very creepy crawly. The flute and violin complement each other well. The third track “Luna de Dia” is all backwards guitar loops and violin scrapes, samples of two people speaking, some old radio music. As in, an old song played through an old radio. It’s all repetition and a few moments of build-up that never quite go off. There are no “European Son” moments to be found. Side A cuts off the track without warning, no fade out, no nothing. You can take it! Move on!
Onto Side B… “Valle de Lagrimas” (Valley of Tears) catches the listener (me) stumbling into these guys mid-jam at one of their rehearsals. I bet it’s real hazy in there. A single kick drum or maybe a tom-tom, comes in. It keeps a simple beat, like Maureen Tucker would. Ritual-like. Is this the last track from Side A but played at its normal speed? It could be. “La Miel” is a A Full Cosmic Sound track, which GN shares a member with. It’s a playful and warped-tape sounding affair. Out-there soft pyschedelics. Like a hippie love ballad on a really bad acid trip. I can’t remember how it ended, it’s too damn hot in here. I really just got lost in the music… which is always a good thing.
Glorias Navales are a refreshing listen. Their music is simple, playful and daring (in a “I don’t give a fuck if this sounds polished or not” and “it’s all about the moment” kind of way). There’s no pretension here and it doesn’t fall into any of the trappings of what I consider bad experimental music: quirkiness and mostly anything that could call itself “vaporwave”. Nor is it soulless/academic computer music that sounds like the “musical manifestation” of a complex math problem. These guys have done their homework on VU, The Fugs, Los Jaivas, Violeta Parra, and made it something entirely their own. I think they have an LP coming out soon… don’t sleep on it.
This cassette can be obtained by contacting the fine folks at ETCS Records