Campo-Formio - EP 28/11/2008

Owain Paciuszko 02/08/2009

Rating: 4/5

Recorded live between the hours of six and eleven in the evening on the titular date at Monopolio Records in San Juan, there is obviously a real sense of a band playing together and an energy that is often lost on other releases by young bands. Opening with the sprawling instrumental wig-out of Intro del Outro Tedioso/Outro Tedioso the band set out their stall as being an inventive, lively and experimental three-piece; fusing elements of Sonic Youth-like feedback drenched guitar with some classic rock inspiration.

Drifting into Aqui, a track which asserts itself via a hi-speed drum line that rattles by like scenery outside a fast-moving train, before being accompanied by skittering, jazzy bass lines and feverishly stabbed guitar. When lead singer Fernando Quintero's lyrics stumble in drunkenly, but elegantly, like a Latin American Julian Casablancas the track suddenly hops up to another pedestal, moving from winningly avant garde instrumentalism into post-punk ramshackle pop.

The General Passed Away has some neat Casio keys wobbling in the background of its quirky, sprightly inide riffage. It's almost frustratingly slight, feeling like the intro to a song that never happens. El Joke bounds straight into action, with Fernando's vocals croaky and haphazard through layers of fuzz and grime, the song itself suddenly switches on a pleasingly angsty guitar line with blasts of pseudo-twee shouting to off-set the gutter-sound all around it. It continues to stagger wondrously along a tight-rope that threatens to collapse the band into a dischordant mess at any second, but they keep balance well.

A light and summery guitar introduces Ambigua Soledad which suddenly lurches into what Captain Beefheart being filtered through The Bees would sound like, with its arch chorus of 'Oh no, no, no.' 'Si, si si!' Final track proper La Mierda is ninety seconds of Puerto Rican punk and a fitting and fun way to close this record before the 'bonus track' Dying Breed, a sweat-drenched nine minute jittering, explosion of relentlessly strummed and smashed instruments that swaggers lazily into the kind of sexy, sleazy rock that Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Raveonettes are notable for.

Not really a live recording, even though it - technically - is. Campo-Formio smartly recorded this with speed to best capture their fantastic, anarchic and live-wire sound. A true off-beat gem.