While I’ve never been to Venezuela, I’ve known many Venezuelans, and one thing that seems true across the board is that Venezuelans love to have fun. The new album from Caracas’ La Mar bears out this theory. There are different kinds of post-rock, ranging from the ponderous to the pretentious, but one type is always appealing: party post-rock. That’s what these lads are about, providing a worthwhile service to those who need to let out a little energy, to rock, to chant, to wave their hands about and to feel part of a universal brotherhood. When it’s fast, it’s fast, but when it’s slow, it’s groovy. When it’s loud, it’s loud, and when it’s quiet … okay, scratch that last one, it’s not quiet. Who needs quiet, this is the party season!
All four players demonstrate a keen knowledge of their craft. The guitars are eloquent, riffing like a pair of seasoned improvisational actors. From time to time, a metal tinge can be detected. The bass is pleasingly prominent, the drums remarkably active and cleanly cut. There’s a lot going on, and quickly, which means the playing must be tight and instinctive in order to keep from flying apart. While the band appears to be young due to its lack of a discography, the band also seems to have been together for a while, given the way each member seems to know what the others are doing at every particular moment.
It’s not all core instruments here, as a few endearing touches have been added. From time to time, a synth pops up (hello!), and “I Will” features a spoken word sample (“I will not obey the voices in my head”) which sounds like operant conditioning but may actually be a quote from Bart’s Blackboard. Even more pleasing are the football (Dear Americans, this means “soccer”) stadium chants that occasionally arise to provide listeners with an opportunity to participate. These first appear at the end of one of La Mar‘s longer tracks, “There Goes Life”, resurfacing on closing monster “Tides”. A Morricone vibe visits “Voyage”, while a reggae beat anchors “Under The Weather”. Unbilled horns and glockenspiel appear on “Victory!” the album’s shortest, punchiest piece. These little left turns provide each track with a distinctive facet that keeps the interest level high.
All of my positive feelings toward the nation of Venezuela are underscored by this release. Now on to the parties! (Richard Allen)