Mompox is the music you’d expect Argentine surfers to put on when resting their muscles after having braved the cold ocean waves.
Tags on the band’s official homepage read: Buenos Aires, electronica, folk, pop, psicodelia, rock, Argentina, indie pop, mompox, triangulo.
Triangle? Yes. Triangular is in fact is the name of their latest release (2011), the shape being one of the only decipherable labels given by the band.
Yet, if it is easy to guess what the three vertexes of the triangle are (rock, folk and psychedelic electro pop), the feel-good harmony they encompass is far from being easily-definable.
Three synthesisers recreate the ludic psychedelia, the complexity of the vocal harmonies and the unexpected rhythm variations of the early surf music. It is reminiscent of MGMT, Arcade Fire, Devo, Flaming Lips and the Beach Boys, all at the same time.
Many tracks are short epiphanies that last less than two and half minutes, songs that seem to be put there to transmit only ‘good vibrations’.
Despite singing in English and defining themselves as an “electro-popabilly-italo-judio” ensemble on their Twitter account, deep down they cannot be more Argentine.
The band saw the light in Buenos Aires, during the hot summer of 2008, when Ignacio de Andrés, Juan Tobal and Ezequiel Spinelli took on the unique quest to achieve the musical perfection they believed appeared in the United States during the 1950s and 60s.
Mompox, was therefore created with the explicit purpose of reviving the era when pop music was eventually submerged and carried towards new shores by a psychedelic wave whose traces are still visible in today’s electronic experimentations.
The recording of ‘Treehouse’ by the parallel band tRilaUs first put Mompox members together with jazz guitarist Tomás Becú, acrobatic pianist and accordionist Alejandro Goldberg, and a versatile DJ-drummer Maximiliano Cataldi.
Needless to say, all these names were known in the scruffiest underground clubs of Buenos Aires, pervaded by the thick rancid smell of Quilmes and wooden floors spotted with dark Fernet stains.
Ignacio de Andrés and his friends already had more than 20 tracks in mind when they finally locked themselves up in a room to record their first studio album, ‘Mompox & The Big Umbrella’ (Panda, El Pie, Mandarina).
With The Beatles, David Bowie and the Kinks in mind the band worked through the summer of 2009. The result was independently released and distributed at the beginning of 2010, and featured the appearance of more than 20 special guests.
‘Mompox & The Big Umbrella’ is a babel of electronic rhythms, psychedelic sounds, folk, pop, orchestra, rockabilly, jazz and bolero that blew the mind of many concert-goers in the capital’s most famous venues: Niceto Club, Teatro Margarita Xirgu, Outsider Festival, Café Vinilo, La Castorera and Plasma, to name a few.
According to the official version, the first 1,000 copies of the original edition were sold out by the end of November, thanks to songs like ‘The Sisters Klein’ (a homage to vaudeville with klezmer airs, where a banjo accompanies the lyrics, and tuba and clarinets duet with a piano), ‘Mary’ (an oneiric and almost Gregorian piece where voices are melted by the smooth sound of the accordion) and ‘Robbery’ (a demonstration of how chameleon-like music can be, thanks to its unique blend of Brit-pop, rockabilly and gypsy tunes).
Mompox are still alive and kicking, and this week are presenting their latest album, ▲. The band will play a series of exclusive concerts at La Fabrica (for a maximum of 30 people and by invitation only).
“We play the whole album. You come inside and you have go through the whole journey, whether you want it or not,” they once said of their live shows.
Genre: Surf-electro pop music
Dates Active: 2008-present
In their own words: “The prolix psychedelic band and the ‘retro-futurism’ that hooked Fabio Alberti up […] We ended up being in love with ourselves.”
Most famous song: “Perfect Service”
Best Lyric: “Don’t want to freeze, don’t want to get old/ Don’t want a bad dream, don’t want to get lost / I’m on the rooftop ready to fall /Looking for a rush before I get old. ” (Friday Night)
Famous for: Being one of the least definable bands on the Argentine musical panorama: a sound that you might as easily find in some hippy festival in San Francisco or in a dark basement in East London.
Best to listen to: Their CDs are an invitation to sit down, close your eyes and simply go back to the ancestral act of listening to a musical artwork from the beginning to the end.