Bungalovv ~ Donde Hubo Fuego

Donde Hubo Fuego (Where There Was Fire) is a perfect name for this release.  The album seems drenched in flame, a sly and sinuous creature.  The tone is dark and deep from its very first note, and seldom lightens.  Only seconds into “Bandera Robata,” Bungalovv launches waves of crisp, aggressive percussion, punctured by stabs of glissando notes.  One might call the music IDM or industrial, as it veers between both while setting its own foreboding course.  And yes, you can dance to it; “A quema ropa” bleeds a beat like Prince’s “Housequake,” but that’s before the bongos.  And what an unexpected, plucked ending!

The tempos of these pieces remain constant, but their internal percussion is always shifting.  One imagines this Buenos Aires artist at the center of a circle instead of behind a drumkit or bank of pads: always in motion, seeking the next new sound.  Every once in a while, a traditional timbre pokes its head around the door, then is frightened into retreat.  The label calls the set “enchanting,” but we suggest “ominous” instead.  If anything, it’s a dark enchantment, like losing control of one’s body to a sinister parasite.  In “Urutau,” the being laughs like a monkey while a second, robotic voice keeps time.  At the end, someone kicks a can, a possible metaphor.

Hits and stomps, stops and starts, yells and screams all add up to an intimidating set, like a call to battle.  Many opposing armies would quake at these sounds.  “Entre Cantarro” includes the sounds of gears and chains, as if a catapult is being drawn back or a torture rack is being stretched.  And yet, despite all that is being written, Bungalovv never seems mean; instead, he comes across as the leader of an invading force, flaunting his considerable arsenal, laying down his terms for peace while not-so-secretly hoping to fight.  Violence is the secret language of the industrial dance floor: violent thoughts transformed into violent movements, but never directed against each other.  These pieces harness this mad energy, distilling it into compact pieces whose aggressive tendencies may bring catharsis.  By the final piece, “You Don’t Need a Soul to Be Human,” the listener is spent.  Bungalovv lights the fire in which we frolic; but when the fire is extinguished, we stride across the embers.  (Richard Allen)

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