Visions of Lost Lands from El Hijo de la Aurora

Something surprising happens about seven minutes into Peruvian trio El Hijo de la Aurora’s debut CD, Lemuria (Ogro Records). What’s so far been a straightforward and admittedly terrifyingly desolate drone record takes a turn and a pure stoner rock riff is injected into the 11-minute opening title track. All of a sudden El Hijo de la Aurora – a trio with no fewer than eight guests/collaborators on the album – are like SunnO))) with payoff, and as the record plays out is near 40-minute runtime (it feels shorter), that’s only the beginning of the sonic twists the band has on offer.

I’d still call Lemuria doom, if only for the overbearing atmosphere of foreboding it creates, but there are plenty of rock moments. Opener “Lemuria” is broken down into four parts, each with a distinct personality when examined closely, but the 1:37 “Deus Sol Invictus,” is basically just a well-reverbed grooving riff from guitarist Manolo Garfias with the lively drums of Joaquín Cuadra behind. The two work well together and are obviously acquainted with each other’s playing from their time together in Don Juan Matus. Arian Lora provides vocals occasionally, but seems even more concentrated on adding sundry effects and theremin to the songs, giving El Hijo de la Aurora an experimental feel where you don’t really know where the band is going to take you next. “Portal a Venus” begins with a sample and stays in the rock vein, with guest Hammond from Saúl Cornejo and vocals from Tania Duarte, who returns also on follow-up track “Cuervo Negro.”

“Portal a Venus” seems to turn itself inside out before it’s over, and joining Duarte on vocals for “Cuervo Negro” is Marcos Coifman, the two giving a memorable performance once again complemented by Cornejo’s Hammond that proves to be one of the highlights of the album. Still, even as the record progresses along at a relatively straightforward classic/stoner rock pace, there’s a dark cloud over the procession. Garfias, who handles bass in addition to guitar, is a considerable part of that, the low end filling out “Cuervo Negro” in time with the Hammond. His acoustic work on “Atma” is probably the only real bright moment Lemuria has to offer, and for just under four minutes, it seems like there might be some escape from whatever beast is around the corner. Christan Van Lacke takes lead vocals on “Atma,” and his breathy, multi-tracked delivery is yet another change El Hijo de la Aurora bring their listeners. But for the buzzing effect that ends it and leads into the closing encore parts of “Lemuria,” “Atma” could have been a ballad on any number of South American underground ‘70s classics.

But, with the return of “Lemuria,” and the entry into parts five, six and seven of the larger piece, we’re back in the realms of drone. The difference this time is Garfias lends a bassline, grounding part five at least for a while. Coifman returns on vocals for the psychedelic King Crimsonry of part six, his melody evoking any number of references to In the Court of the Crimson King while the band slowly plays out behind, Cuadra’s drums high in the mix as they’ve been whenever he’s present. I don’t know where the split is between parts six and seven (it’s all one track), but Elleen Burhum is listed as vocalizing it, and the last two minutes or so of Lemuria are led by female vocals, so draw the line wherever you want. I’d say her showing up on the track is a surprise, but really, by that point, El Hijo de la Aurora have shown an affection for diversity of sound that’s left them open to anything. Why not throw another voice on there?

The miracle of Lemuria is that it all works. El Hijo de la Aurora pack all these sounds and all these people onto an album under 40 minutes long and at no point does the album lack flow or cohesion. Without question that’s its greatest achievement, but Lemuria’s natural feel and thorough ambience are not to be overlooked. The trio-plus have in their debut an incredibly solid and open foundation on which to progress, and I’m every bit aware of the hyperbole present when I say that Lemuria is Boris-like in its scope. When El Hijo de la Aurora get around to a sophomore outing, don’t be surprised if it’s even further out. Once a band with this kind of vision gets going, they don’t stop.

El Hijo de la Aurora on MySpace

Ogro Records

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply