When I started out to add Bilis Sicario to The Obelisk Radio, I was going with their EP, Encuentro de Sutilezas, on Torcaza Records. Then I found that a follow-up single, dubbed II, had been released by the Baja California mostly-instrumental outfit, and though I’m not entirely sure when either of them came out (they don’t seem to be recent, showing a 2012 release date, but some of their reviews are newer) and can’t find a lineup for the band other than the curiously-named Iván Glez. Glez who carries his own punctuation amid a repeated last name and is responsible for recording, mixing and mastering the single, I figured probably better to play it safe with the newer-seeming release. Whether or not Bilis Sicario is a one-man project from Glez or not, I don’t know — their email referred to “our debut demo” — but it’s a full-band sound anyway across the pair of cuts included on II, guitars layering in post-rock ambience to match step with crunching desert riffs. Both “En Vano” and “Argos” owe some of their approach to Queens of the Stone Age‘s early going, and while Bilis Sicario are instrumental, there’s a haunting human touch to each track that comes through in atmospherics more individualized than one might initially think.
Starting out noisy, “En Vano” gradually unfurls an upbeat, jumpy-style riff that’s the root of the QOTSA comparison, while thick bass rumbles underneath à la some lost jam from the 1998 self-titled. There arrive what sound an awful lot like ambient vocals if they’re not, but the crux of the track is the riff work, and though it feels short at just over three minutes, the riff is enough to carry the song, a steady kick drum giving the full tones a sense of march as the final slower progression plays out to an end of sustained amp noise. With “Argos,” which tops seven minutes, obviously Bilis Sicario have more room to jam out, and advantage is taken. Quirky effects swirl around likewise bizarro riff turns as a sample from the 1967 Mexican film Santo el Enmascarado de Plata vs. la Invasión de los Marcianos, in which a masked wrestler is forced to do battle with invaders from Mars. That bit of brilliance taken into account, the song furthers the atmospherics of “En Vano” with patient guitar in a spacious background of effects, returning samples providing a verse for the guitars to play off, until just before the four-minute mark, Bilis Sicario introduce a fuller riff that serves as the basis for the remainder of the song as it’s built around and developed.
What’s most surprising about “Argos” as it works its way out is how big it sounds. In its layers of guitar and bass, yes, but even more in the drums, the song takes on an awful lot of room before its long fadeout ensues. Listening back, Encuentro de Sutilezas put to use some similar methods across its own four tracks, but I figured since both were available as a free download from Torcaza Records, the single would make a good place to start for anyone looking to get introduced. You can hear it now as part of the 24/7 stream on The Obelisk Radio, and grab some files via the Bandcamp player and links below.