It has been said before and it is worth saying again: the era for hybrid music is now. Musicians in the modern pop era have been merging sounds from different cultures and countries for years, and the love of rock’n’roll and jazz is celebrated on countless albums around the world. For the three piece Chicago-based group known as Allá, they share that in an album that has taken them four years to write, record, and complete. Just like a good pot of molcahete, you have to let it cook and let the ingredients react to the chemistry within. Allá did just that, and eventually they came up with a very appropriate title: Es Tiempo (“it’s time”).
Listening to them brings to mind the best elements of Os Mutantes, Supreme Beings Of Leisure, and even a bit of Beck, which you can hear in the musicianship and arrangements of Jorge Ledezma and Angel Ledezma. The music weaves into itself as a collage of adventurous 60’s flavorered pop with subtle electronic rhythms and the sound of string samples that help heighten the feeling of these songs. One review felt that the voice of Lupe Martinez was not distinct, that it tended to get lost in the music, but I don’t quite agree with that. When her voice gets “lost,” it feels more like what My Bloody Valentine’s Bilinda Butcher did on Loveless, where the balance of vocals and well produced music is blurred to become one. In the case of Allá one tends to want to get lost in all of the intricate sounds they create together; it’s when songs could become caught up in layers of chaos that it leads to something that is anything but.
The entire album is in Spanish, but with a group whose members were raised in the United States, you still hear tonalities that are more common in American music than anything north or south of the border. Or to put it in a different way, it’s an American group playing Latin music with a Western touch, from a Mexican’s perspective. “Sigue Tú Corazon” sounds like a dreamy trip into romance, while “Tú Vida” features beats that sound like they were pulled from some heavy duty crates, with a drive that helps push Martinez’s voice into something elegant and seductive while pushing you to dance the night away, not unlike Clara Hill or Soulstice’s Gina Rene. Es Tiempo is fairly laid back, nothing that demands calling it a masterpiece but it’s enough to make you take notice and want to put these songs on repeat.
– John Book