If you go to a concert by Los Mutantes del Paraná, chances are you’re gonna hear a crowd of people not only dancing intensely, but also singing along. This would not be worthy of remark in almost any other concert of almost any other indie local band, and yet it is an outstanding detail in this particular scenario because there are no lyrics to their songs. Nevertheless, Los Mutantes’ tunes are, in their entirety, like any good guitar solo: even with no words, it is completely possible – and almost inevitable – to sing along.
What started out as a trio back in 2009 has become, over the years, a band made up of no less than eight members: Charly Valerio on guitar, keyboards and production, Santiago Dirrheimer on bass and double bass, Nahuel Dirrheimer on guitar, Damián Chávez on drums, Santiago Rudas on kettledrum and accessories, Juan Manuel Fernández on congas and accessories, Ángel Chávez on tenor saxophone and Leandro Aspis on trombone. Far from making the creative process somewhat chaotic, the band’s expansion has never steered it away from their horizontal, democratic work. Although this makes each recording process a bit longer, the result has always been music all eight members are satisfied with.
Much in the eclectic spirit that so many young artists are going for, Los Mutantes look to merge a variety of styles and genres. “Our premise is to take folk music from all over the world, fuse them, bring them together and play with them”, drummer Damián Chávez told The Bubble. “You could say it’s the quest for the new world folklore”. So far, this quest has materialized into three solid albums with very different atmospheres and which, nevertheless, have a very clear signature sound that could come from this band, and this band only. You might be listening to their 2013 opera prima “El entrerriano”, sailing deep into the Río Paraná and exploring its forests through the more classic Argentine folk. You may be listening to their 2015 “Noctámbulo”, and wallowing in the beautiful, dreamlike nostalgia of its starring piano. Either way, you’ll know it’s Los Mutantes blasting on the speaker.
Released on every digital platform on October 19th, their most recent album, “Atacama”, was not only received with much enthusiasm by fans, but it is also, perhaps, their most daring record so far. Much as it’s name anticipates, it is a twelve track trip to the heart of a classic western film, or an adventure video game: it could very easily be applied as a soundtrack to either narrative. The name came from Federico Dirrheimer, the artist in charge of the art behind the album. Made with seven layers of paraffin one on top of the other, the result is an image that takes you to a camel-filled desert. Alan Kugelmass melted the piece, took pictures of it and finished up what is now the dazzling cover of “Atacama.” Besides, on a linguistic level, there was something about the word sounding similar to “attack” that attracted the band as well.
“This album has a lot of new rhythms,” said Chávez. “The synthesizer has a strong presence, which brings some psychodelia to our mutant music. We had been using it in our live shows, but never in our recordings. We used an octapad, and explored rhythms like carnavalito or Turkish and Celtic sounds, among others. There’s even more fusion here than in our previous work”. After their presentation at a packed Niceto on Friday 2nd, they are now heading on a tour that will take the record to La Plata, Córdoba, Olavarría, Necocha, Mar del Plata and Rosario.
When asked why Los Mutantes go for instrumental music in a time where that does not seem the most popular move, Chávez’s reply was quite simple: “it’s what we do, what we know and what we like.” However, there’s something deeper to be read into this, particularly considering that their interest lies in being a musical blender of sorts for sounds from all over the world. What better way to bring international sounds together than to do so outside the confines of words, thus overcoming the barriers inevitably put up by languages? What’s outstanding is not so much that they have managed to succeed making instrumental music, given that so many bands and composers have been doing so for centuries. What is worthy of merit, however, is that they have done so without ever steering away from the popular sound they wanted to achieve. In a sort of Babel-like move, Los Mutantes have managed to create a sound that eludes limits put both by words and academic music. In other words, you don’t need to speak any language or know anything about music to sing along. That’s what makes this band so insanely fun.
Mutantes del Parana are currently on tour and will be playing Mar del Plata, Necochea, Olavarría, Rosario and Cordoba in the upcoming weeks. For more info about the band visit their Instagram account and Facebook page. Check their new Atacama record in its entirety below.