September 6, 2008

CD Review: Totimoshi - Milagrosa

Ever heard of Totimoshi? Yes? I knew there had to be a couple of you around. How about the rest of you? That's okay; don't be shy. There you are! Don't worry; I am one of you. That's right, I had never heard of this Bay Area trio, nor had I ever heard any of their brand of rock and roll before. I did not even know they were of Latin descent. When I first heard the name, I was sure they were going to be a rock act out of Japan, like Dir En Grey or something along those lines. It turned out I could not be further from the truth.

Milagrosa is the band's sixth release and first for their new label, Volcom Entertainment (although I have learned that the label has reissued their last album, Ladron). Milagrosa is the work of a mature band, a group of songwriters who have grown together and now what they want to do and how to go about writing it. A line like that would seem to indicate a precision that could sap creativity by way of comfort. Like my thoughts on where they call home, the thought would be, shall we say, imprecise.

The eleven songs are filled with interesting arrangements, and machine-like accuracy, however, above all of that is a loose, jam band quality. It is easy to see that a lot of time went into the creation of these songs, but that jam band quality makes it sound so easy. It is almost like they went into the studio, pressed record, played the album in its entirety and went out to play it again at a party. It is like they did not spend any time writing the album, they all instinctively knew what they had to play. All they needed to do was sit down with their instruments, nod to each other, and launch into it.

This style of music is not typically what I listen too, and I doubt that it ever will be. That said, I cannot deny that it is good music that likely deserves a larger audience than it gets. This is music that can involve you, if you give it the time. It is thoughtful, creative, and has a great groove.

Fronting the band is Antonio Aguilar on guitar and vocals. He is a captivating centerpiece with interesting lyrics and an even more interesting delivery. Joining Antonio are Meg Castellanos on bass and backing vocals and drummer (at least for the moment) Chris Fugitt. This trio combines to create an expansive sound that is open, airy, complex, and refreshing. Going from some extreme metal to this is a breath of fresh air, it cleanses the palate and goes down easy.

The album opens with the excellent "Around the Horn," and also contains such strong cuts as "Last Refrain," "Gnatm," and "Little Bee." All of the songs feature the production talents of Helmet frontman Page Hamilton, who brings a nicely polished finish to the raw materials here, while not taking away the free-form feel that emanates from the sonic creations.

Bottomline. I cannot say that I will follow Totimoshi, but I am quite glad to have been introduced to them. The music is fresh, creative, and well worth spending time with. I can imagine their style translates to an electric live performance. If you are looking for something a little different, Totimoshi will definitely fill the bill.



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