I want Commander Crais dead!
You see, a while back i was meeting some fellow Minions for
an evening of sushi in Buckhead, which is convenient for me
seeing as i work there, but awful for them because of the traffic.
I had an hour to kill between the end of work and meeting my
collegues, and i knew that the new Autechre EP, Granz
Graf was out, so i thought i would go to Tower Records
and pick it up.
However, Tower was PACKED with sci-fi geeks. Normally i would
relish the opportunity to bond with my people, but their gathering
constituted a "Save Farscape" ralley. I watched
that show a few years back, but do not really consider myself
There were several cast members there -- the gray-skinned girl
(who was even cuter without her makeup), the guy with the metal
thing over his face, and Commander Crais. Crais was the bad
guy for the first couple of seasons, although now he's a good
guy. I think -- my stinking Cable Monopoly in Cobb Co. doesn't
carry the Sci-fi Channel, so i dunno what's going on with the
show. At any rate, they were located at the back of the spacious
store, lined up at tables and signing autographs and chatting
Crais was located just in front of the "Dance Singles", where,
ironically, the latest Autechre would be filed. (I say ironically,
because anyone who tried to dance to Autechre would end up with
broken limbs and general physical misery....) I walked past
the crowd to get to the singles and geeks began accosting me
for trying to cut in line. Several of them were very adamant,
and somewhat larger than i, and, at the time, fueled on testosterone
at the prospect of meeting the gray-skinned girl from the show.
So my choices were:
- Explain my plight to these people. Which would entail explaining
who Autechre were, which might take more than the now 40 minutes
i had left to spare, especially seeing as they really couldn't
care about me because i am not a gray-skinned cute New Zealander
- Wait in line, which might take more than 40 minutes.
- Wander around the store seeking a way to sneak back there
I, of course, chose option 3. So i wandered around looking
for a short cut past the crowd, and then i got distracted by
looking at the other CD's.
The whole point of this long and boring tale is that this is
how i discovered Nona Delichas. I consider the moment of discovery
to be a significant event in my life, so i felt it necessary
to document. (Plus, i like torturing Brendan with really long
So why is Nona Delichas significant? Firstly, the comparison
on the card that drew my attention was "Cocteau Twins". Yes,
this is a band with powerful female vocals and interesting melodies.
But they are also Mexican. That is unusual, really, in that
although Atlanta has a large Mexican population, i know nothing
about Mexican music. Well, i see a lot of Mexcan guys in heavy
metal t-shirts (Pantera being popular with Mexicans, apparently),
and i also see a lot of Mexicans drving in cars blaring salsa-tinged
But this. It's, well, it's different -- Nona Delichas do not
fit into either stereotype. Of course, i knew that Mexican music
had to be more diverse than simply salsa and metal. For example,
i know that Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde toured Mexico
with The Autumns as his backing band in 1997 or thereabouts.
They supposedly played to large and appreciative crowds. I have
also heard tell that goth bands who play to medium-sized crowds
in America can sell out soccer/bull-slaughtering stadiums in
Mexico. So, apparently, there are some pretty hip folks south
of the border.
It's also wierd because, although i know lots about Canadian
music, i know almost nothing about the music from the other
culture we share the continent with. Why? Is this simply a case
of language bigotry? I'm not too sure, because French canadian
music is big with the Indie scene (Godspeed
You Black Emperor, Jetone),
and German music is very trendy these days (Christian
Kleine, Mouse On Mars, Notwist),
and there is even a Spanish band getting good press (Mus).
So perhaps it's something else.
And it's a damned shame really, because Nona Delichas are a
very cool band that makes very interesting music.
Their most obvious strength is vocalist Claudia Morfín,
who has a rich, deep voice and sings in a way that tells me
she has lots of training. She displays amazing control, and
her husky pronunciation is lovely. Additionally, Sebastián
Ballesteros and Guillermo Morfín back her up with interesting
dual guitar melodies, while Marco Pedrozo adds vaguely latino
percussion. And then, to top it all off, C G V Rama adds in
samples of various types, and apparently remixes some of their
Many of the elements in the music sound familiar: after all,
this is a pretty standard contemporary rock band lineup. The
output though is slightly different and sounds very fresh to
me. I think it is because of the cultural differences: just
as German or Norwegian rock is somewhat different because of
the culture of the musicians, the Mexican heritage of Nona Delichas
is added to their pop stylings to make something new and interesting.
Aires do Bocacalle is apparently their second
album, and wasn't released in the US until mid-2002. I don't
really know much else about the band, because the English language
page at their website
isn't working. No matter -- i can enjoy without knowing about
There are so many good songs on here, but first let me mention
my overall thematic impressions. The album is full of excellent,
delicate guitarwork, much of it acoustic. The bass, where present,
is slow and thudding, often buried in the background. The drumming
is light, a nice rhythmic accompaniment to the guitar interplay
that drives the songs. And overtop of this music is Claudia
Morfín's voice. Normally i would dispute this sort of
recording arrangement (i pretty much dissed The
Cold After for a similar recording arrangement), but Ms.
Morfín's voice is powerful enough to carry it off. No,
really: if you are going to have the voice dominate the music,
make sure you have someone singing who really knows their stuff,
and that is definitely the case here. Now, i speak no Spanish,
so the lyrics might be terrible. If they are, don't tell me.
My favorite track on the album is Uno no es, which is
an rock ballad of epic proportions. The lead guitar is wah-wahed,
and Ms. Morfín really belts it out. Plus, in the background
is a nice set of Mexican brass horns, a sound which i just love
and which adds a great exotic feel to the tune. The melody,
carried at times by the guitar, voice, and horns, is really
lovely. This is a great track.
The other songs i like here seem to have a new wave feel to
them. Equinoccio has drumming that was intentionally
recorded "flat" -- it sounds tinny and distant, but also it
was obviously meant to sound that way. This adds a primitive
feel to the blend of horns that here sound synthesized and the
tinny post-punk effects used on the guitars. Antes de que
nos olviden is in some ways the opposite, the drumming starts
out insistent and almost martial, and the guitar is tremoloed
subtly but nicely. Then echo slowly builds on the drums, and
a nice dubby bass riff joins in. This combined with the rhythms
of Ms. Morfín's voice give the track a real Jamaican
But really: there are no weak tracks on the album. Those are
my favorites, but all of the songs are nice, light and exotic
pop. Aires de Bocacale features 9 regular songs,
and then 4 remixes of some of the songs, and one remix of a
song not on the album, perhaps from their previous release.
The remixes are interesting, but as is often the case they
sometimes don't really improve on the base song. However, the
Terrestre mix of Muni really improves on the album's
opener. This mix is Nona Delichas's pop music given the IDM
glitch treatment. There is a layer of fuzz crackling over Ms.
Morfín's voice, and the drumming is shoved forward in
the mix, so that it is an almost primal accompanyment to her
voice. At times this mix sounds almost loungey, but then the
glitch will overwhelm it and it will become a fractured robotic
dream of happiness and sunny fields. Very nicely done.
Also of note is the Panoptica mix of Aires de Bocacalle,
which is done as smooth flowing electro like you hear in commercials
for trendy over-priced European cars. In fact, this song almost
sounds like it could have come from the
latest Underworld album. Strange, really, but it works in
the overall context of the album.
So: i want Commander Crais dead for getting between me and
Autechre, but before i shove him out the hatch of Moya to asphyxiate
in deep space, i will thank for inadvertantly introducing me
to Nona Delichas.
If you are a fan of dreamy pop music, i highly recommend this
album. Also, if you are curious to hear some interesting Mexican
music, then i urge you to try Aires de Bocacalle.