A dark atmosphere. Spoken word poetry with puzzling, dark lyrics inspired by the deepest depths of the human psyche. Offbeat music with sudden changes in rhythm, tone, and moods. A sensation of dread, followed by a sweet catharsis. These are just some sentences that barely describe Balada en Cinco Dosis (Ballad in Five Doses), the newest concept album by Uruguayan experimental band Café Velorio.
As the title suggests, it is a collection of five songs (or doses) that maintain a thematic and musical relationship with each other to build a complete ballad (or vaccine). Balada en Cinco Dosis traps the listener with its sound and never lets them go, even after the last track has finished.
Café Velorio is a band from Montevideo, Uruguay started in 2019 Jimena Rodriguez (vocals) and Nicolás Weiss (guitar, bass, vocals). Both of them are trained classical musicians and it shows by listening to their work. That same year, they released their first album, Diario íntimo de una chica adolescente conflictiva (Intimate Diary of a Conflictive Teenage Girl), alongside bassist Rodrigo Antelo. Diario íntimo… features a dark aesthetic in its themes and music that will later evolve into the sound we can hear today in their second release, Balada en Cinco doses. Balada… features drummer Diego Morales in an essential role that gives the album the unique flavour it has. It was recorded at Mastodonte Studios by Gastón Ackerman, who also was in charge of mixing and mastering. The album was edited by Dos Boluditos Producciones.
Tratar de emocionar a quien la escuche, exorcisarse de el miedo, un pequeño espacio temporal de libertad. To try to thrill those who hear it, to exorcise oneself of fear, a small temporary space of freedom. –Café Velorio
Balada en Cinco Dosis was inspired by the advent of vaccines during the pandemic. Café Velorio decided to divide the album into five, digestible tracks. The album excells in proposing and maintaining a unique sound throughout its approximate 15 minutes of duration. Each track features a heavy atmosphere built upon offbeat drums and guitars that jump around the rhythmic spoken vocals which create musical phrases that appear and reappear with slight variations later on. In a completely experimental sense, Café Velorio slowly builds the climax that may or may not be reached by the end. And that is not all: they are not afraid to experiment with mood swings, changes of key and tempo, to completely transform the musical mood even during the same track. (For example, the track “Honda” begins as an upbeat, rhythmic track before becoming into a rock ballad a third of the way in). As a result, Balada… feels like a complete, fourty minute album tightly packed in a small package.
Balada… draws inspiration from various sources for its themes. News, literature, history, each track explores the hidden depths of the human psyche through its abstract lyrics and images. “Un águila cazó un tiburón en Miami” (An Eagle Hunted a Shark in Miami) is inspired by a true event. By telling the story through the eyes of an eagle, it creates a metaphor of the hidden force humans show when in dangerous situations. “Temor por Xtina” (Fear for Xtina) is a ghost story that parallels the complexity: darkest thoughts of the mind. “Honda” is an energetic track about diving headfirst into danger. “Cormac” is inspired by a passage from the novel The Road by American writer Cormac McCarthy. Café Velorio capture the post-apocalyptic setting of the novel and its theme of the depths one is willing to dive to maintain those we love safe in a father/son relationship. Búsqueda (Search) is about the shadow of the military dictatorships of the 20th century in South America, particularly about the forced disappearances of those who dared to oppose them. It is dedicated to the mothers and family members of the many people who were detained and disappeared by authorities.
Balada en Cinco Dosis by Café Velorio is an excellent album that, in spite of its short duration, packs a lot of heavy ideas in a musical and thematic sense. Dark and mysterious, it is a bold and fresh proposal from a band full of talent and guts. An album that you should not miss out on!
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