Disclaimer: I have a very small involvement with this album. All photographs are mine (I donated them to the band). One track (‘Elefante’) is slightly based on a riff I once managed to pull out of thin air (although the finished song barely resembles it). Just wanted to get this out of the way. I’m aware this might constitute a conflict of interest, but, hey, at least I’m being honest about it.
Right, so, after a long, long, long time in gestation, Lumiere‘s Coloso is out. The pieces crawled out from the proverbial primordial ooze and assembled together, like a Gestalt leviathan that never rests, peering into our souls with an everlasting gaze.
The music is in the genre of Space Rock. Hints of Hum, The Cure, Primus, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins rarefy the atmosphere. Lyrics about astral planes, magical realism, alien invasions (resulting in the obliteration of the human race) and nods to modern literature (Chuck Palahniuk, Alejandro Jodorowsky, José Saramago) are everywhere here.
The rhythm is tribal and the slow drone of an ebow wails like the last gasps of an elephant. We open with ‘Elefante’, a song about cross-starred lovers looking over the river Thames, overseen by Dalí‘s elephant. The Elephant and the river remain, their love doesn’t.
There are interesting dynamics in Coloso. Although the heavy moments obliterate anything the band has done before, a loud-quiet-loud approach has been avoided. Full blown heavy tracks (‘Vertex’, ‘Marla’) really push the grind, never becoming overbearing but driving the point home: Lumiere is armed. A couple of tracks (‘Cíclope’, ‘Pez Plata’) are pop songs disguised in a Math rock skin, deceiving you into humming a catchy chorus. Nothing wrong with it, makes it both memorable and a bone with lots of meat on it.
The Latin flavour is still in the flesh here. Grab some crackling, dip it in guacamole and dance to ‘Cuidado con lo que deseas’, which is Lumiere at its poppiest. Conversely, ‘Géminis’ is Lumiere at its most experimental. The dread-filled atmosphere of the first part is gloomy, readying the senses for an inevitable cataclysm that makes goosebumps run to the hills of your soul.
Lumiere chose to re-record two tracks from their previous EP, Fatalismo. ‘El Iluminador’ is an open shout to all those manipulators we seem to genuflect to, ‘Gragrofe’ is a spot of Mexican guilt-tripping, filled with that self-loathing/self-pity we do seem to tap into (sometimes too much). This works for good and bad (love the duality present throughout the album); bad because it might be taking the place of 2 new tracks, good because maybe the band are finally happier with the songs (and sometimes, that’s all that matters).
There are a couple of slow points that might not work that well. ‘Almadoble’ is catchy, but might be too linear in comparison to the dynamics offered by the other songs. ‘Yo, Marina’ might be similarly linear, but at least the general musical ideas (and the atmosphere) offered are more rewarding. No wonder there’s a small coda of this track after the heartbreaking track, ‘El encuentro’, closes the album with an iron curtain and puts a couple of padlocks, just to be safe.
The music scene in México suffered for a big while the bane of copycat bands just playing it for a cheque or for recognition, not for the love of the game. Mamá Pulpa said this once to us, and as a friend of Lumiere, I’ve seen them go through hell for a gig. The tide seems to be finally turning away and Lumiere is one of many talented bands moving away from the flotsam and jetsam left. Let’s hope they keep moving with strong stride towards their own sound and identity. By the sound of it, they are right about to get it nailed.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López