It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Monterrey, Mexico’s Los Llamarada. The last contact I had with them wasn’t contact at all, more like reaching out to a specter disappearing into the night. After a whirlwind weekend watching them blow the unsuspecting minds of crowds at SXSW, they left me on the Lamar pedestrian bridge in Austin in the middle of the night. I wanted just one more face-melting show, but alas, that final farewell wouldn’t be. They’d gotten lost and decided instead to slip back over the border, back to the reality that pretty much reflects the impenetrable music they make.
That was two years ago, and nary a peep from them has surfaced. It seems their preference is to work in isolation, and though they received accolades from all over the map, it’s likely they prefer to exist in their own consciousness and not worry too much about how those crowds interpret the music that they make. Outside influence would only sully the purity, and touring constantly could cause routine. One thing you should know is that Los Llamarada’s modus operandi is anything but routine. Which brings us to Gone Gone Cold, a record that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. From all accounts, this is the swansong for the band, and it’s arguably their most disjointed freeform offering to date.
With Los Llamarada, it’s hard not to attach a gnarled romanticism to what they do. In the last few years, with the Mexican drug wars on full blast, their hometown of Monterrey has become a virtual police state, with corpses hanging in major boulevards, random shootings, random searches and a general unease for citizens. As is scrawled on the back cover, Gone Gone Cold was recorded in “the last days of Monterrey,” and every note feels like the band is marching towards a black hole filled with depression, paranoia and nihilism. Maybe that’s why they’re tearing everything down? No hope? No future? No wave? That’s always been the case with Los Llamarada, but though I never imagined it possible, here that desperation sounds even more profound, more urgent. They’re also not ones to mess with conceptual meaning, but perhaps as a protest or response to the ongoing war, Gone Gone Cold has a definitive shape and purpose. This is a band that usually thrives on improvisation and punk spontaneity. Those traits are present, just magnified and connected with a thematic strand concerning daily life in the trenches. With song titles like “Death Will Die,” “There Is No Ending” and “He Was Killed,” there is no mistaking where their heads were during the making of Gone Gone Cold. It’s not a record for the faint of heart or those who might struggle with the ugly noise that is no doubt indicative of the dire state of their environment. Throughout there are model Los Llamarada clusterfucks. Some swing, some shred, some amble into nothingness, like the near-blues finale of “Inside the Fire.” It’s these coarse, slow-motion barrages where the band is most brutal, as on the Throbbing Gristle meets Teenage Jesus grind of “Shadow with No Past.” And when things speed up, the velocity provided by Ek Sanza’ two entries, “The Sudden Flesh” and “Tu Diversion,” creates an unrelenting schizophrenic foil to Johnny Noise’s shouted tension. Let’s call it an EVOL-era Kim and Thurston type of chemistry. Underneath it all there’s a current of psychedelia—in the reverberated vocals, the vespid guitar lines that hover in the room’s atmosphere, and the maniacal blurt of the synths on hand. Los Llamarada may be looking to destroy, but instead build a fortress of cacophony among the ruins. Who really knows if this is the end? We’ve seen them dissolve before, sometimes right before our eyes. There is at least some security in knowing that prior to the dismantling, they made this statement as proof of their existence.
Kevin J. Elliott