El Haru Kuroi – 192192192
Navigating through the past, present and future, El Haru Kuroi lands their third coming full length 192192192, in a musical realm of both the familiar and foreign. The inventive composition invites dance floor and music enthusiast into orbits of melodic mystery and lyrical surrealism, foreshadowing the future of music.
To respect the title of the 8 track album, the meaning behind 192192192 will remain an enigma. The Boyle Heights Trio originally met at Pasadena City College, forming in 2006, and naming themselves an indirect translation of ‘The Black Spring’. Fusing a Spanish pronoun and placement of Japanese words ‘kuroi haru,’ the name alludes to the band’s language and genre flexibility. Eddika Organista, a UCLA music graduate exposes roots of Tropicalia, coining her own style; Nueva Tropicalia. Michael Anthony Ibarra, pushes bass boundaries with ceaseless waves of experimental jazz walks on his stand up, and for the first time, lyrical strides on electric bass within tracks 2, 3, 6 and 8. Dominique “Chief” Rodgriguez, experienced in theater, performs cinematic rudiments of hot jazz swings, percussive Latin pops, and African rhythms, often containing a punk attitude.
Stepping from an East LA barrio, the group begins their album with a sort of homecoming track. It has been four years since their last full length release, nevertheless an homage to oldies and variation of the group’s auteurist Nueva Tropicalia style infuses like a local folktale in Vale Das Bonecas. Translating to Valley of the Dolls in Portuguese, the track is about a man from the streets, whose been on his hustle since childhood. The socio political attitude of the song speaks like a beatnik spout with low yet strutting timbres of Mike’s bass. The phonetic rhyming melodies in Organista’s voice lends a resounding groove mixing well with her hollow guitar, while Dominique’s drumming attitude steadies the almost chaotic up and downs of such momentum.
A cosmic energy waves through Invenciones, Yagate and Encuentos. Invenciones exposes the optimistic imagination of a futuristic utopia Eddika is currently writing on. Unraveling a hint of the novel, a song on surreal magnetic inventions which free the dream world and catalyze human capacities is paralleled seamlessly in the group’s flight through free jazz progressions, with stems of bossa nova and punk pulses.
Yagate, confronts the magically surreal in lyrics and song, but remains ambiguous in text, mixing japanese and portuguese. Introducing Moog expressions, Eddika solidifies this moving piece in tempo and ariose exploration.
Encuentos echoes the late Los Angeles punk tune ‘Must Not Think Bad Thoughts’ by X with similar progression but innovating direction. Dealing with loss and the after life, the trio takes a cosmic existential tour with a song about the realm of death, inspired by a late friend.
My particular favorite, Ok Thunder, is the perfect storm brewed for the angsty heart broken, pit thirsty type. Highly tense, the jazz/punk fusions console like a sexy Radiohead ballad, and bumps like a raw Violetta Para episode, lyrical scream and all.
Make Your Move reveals a new side of E.H.K. Inviting the echoes of moonlight cruisin’ oldies, the jam is far from a typical low rider love song. Instead, among the homie hats, and dance floor glances, this story gives the female agency, as she tries to convince her prize of the night to succumb to the dance of Chief’s rolls, Mike’s deep walk of the bass, and Eddika’s seductive singing, and samba soul guitar.
The band further pushes their own musical boundaries in Nocturnos. Crafting Afro rhythms over the dark wave romance of a gothic tale, the tune lures the hips to a mysterious dance of jungle night’s unknown. An 80s esk intro, transitioning into a hollow waltz begins this latin rhythmic dance on tropical guitar, as Mike again, reaches out of his comfort zone plucking a hypnotic electric bass. Eddika also shadows dusky Moog chords, held together by the distinguishing sound of Chief’s drum spell, caressing latin and afrocentric sounds. With ethereal accompanying vocals by Crisia Regalado, the piece works as a dance floor serenade.
Last, Niños Viajadores is a more musically recognizable version of the band but still remains innovative, telling a story through gravitational melodies and haunting vocal undertone. The song is about immigrant children always on the move, depicted in the neck of the guitar and bass in melodic up and down drifts coming full circle. The band agrees upon the betterment of humanity but does not preach such views, rather demonstrates this emotion through visionary lyrics, harmonic conviction, percussive strikes and the fiery pace of a bellowing bass.
Recorded by Dominique Rodriguez, with vocal recordings by Eddie Rivas, mixed by Lester Mendoza and Mastered by Matt Lynch, the final work foreshadows the ever exploring future of El Haru Kuroi. Picking up where Tropicalia, hot and free jazz, oldies, punk and worldly rhythms left off, Eddika, Mike and Chief craft a new musical tongue, ringing out the voice of a new generation.
Photography and Video by © Rafael Cardenas 2016