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6 July 2013

El Jesus de Magico - 'Scalping the Guru' (Columbus Discount)

Scalping the Guru was the original name of Guided by Voices' Alien Lanes album (which we'll get to, eventually) so this may be some sort of reference to their Ohio brethren. The only real influence is in the production, where the dirty, anthemic guitars of 'Summer of Luhv' could be lifted straight from those mid-90s GbV classics. But instead of catchy, hooky melodies, El Jesus's vocalist takes a different approach: less grandiose, without any element of being a 'front man'. The opening cut is more hi-fi though, appropriately titled 'Ancestor Worship', and laying down a pretty good Kraut-like groove, recalling Yeti's tectonic plateshifts (with with a bit less cosmic dust). I file this under E which shows my own Anglican bias towards respecting articles; just like Los Llamarada will appear under Lo, not Ll. But I don't think there's anything hispanic about El Jesus de Magico - this is a great synthesis of white avant-rock influences, an assemblage that is confident and experimental as well. Feedback, synths or some other electronic forms appear throughout - side two starts with a track built from static and space, sounding like a dirty needle, but in a hypnotic compelling way. When the band hits a mid-tempo groove, as on 'Whistle Cock', their improvisational side is allowed to unfold, as the drummer holds things together just barely. But I wouldn't call this noise-rock or even particularly ramshackle; it's a unique balance of together and apart, which is why I'd cite these guys as one of the more interesting rock bands in whatever passes for the American 'underground' today.

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