Half the battle in describing Totimoshi to the uninitiated is in making people understand that they are not, despite what some might believe, the second coming of the Melvins. What Totimoshi are is actually a highly disciplined, focused band with a sound like sonic impressionists triangulating a signal between the points of stoner rock, old-school industrial (with its ties to the Fluxus movement, noise, and free-improv), and Latin music. Its these first two points that get them compared to bands like the Melvins; the third is what makes them radically different from all those other bands.
Totimoshi come by the Latin influence naturally main songwriter and head visionary Tony Aguilar is Chicano, the son of migrant farm workers, and bassist Meg Castellanos is half-Cuban and it shows up constantly in the artwork, lyrics, and most of all, the music. Its their subtle Latin approach to the beat that goes a long way toward separating them from the average stoner-rock and metal band, and their commanding grasp of many other genres, some of them what Elvis would have called real real gone, is what puts them on another level entirely.
Formed November 1997 by singer/guitarist Tony Aguilar and bassist Meg Castellanos, the two been slugging it out on the DIY circuit for close to a decade, releasing their albums (Totitmoshi-1999, Mysterioso?-2002, Monoli-2003) through uber-metal indie, Crucial Blast, and touring the country with their beloved dogs. With the recent addition of new drummer Chris Irizarry, the band is currently readying the re-release of Ladrón (originally released through Crucial Blast in October 2006 and being re-released March 6th 2007 by Volcom Entertainment who recently signed the band).
Produced by Page Hamilton (Helmet, Band of Susans) and engineered by Kurt Schlegel at Lucky Cat Studios., Ladrón delivers bone-snapping heaviness and hypnotic rhythms that mutate without warning into pure old-school country and western dirges, only to abruptly shift into a completely different and unexpected direction altogether. Sequenced in such a manner that it is intended to be listened to from start to finish every time, Ladrón takes listener on a journey that is less dependent upon words, and more on its emotionally charged sounds. Delivered in such an endless series of inventive movements, the developing story and mood are never broken from the end of one song to the beginning of the next.
Lead and title track, Ladrón, sets the pace by evolving from a bare-bones beat and joyously melodic barbed-wire guitar to well, lots of different things, including desolate country rock with a twangy solo to full-on buzzed-out rock. The stop-start lurch of In Virgo flows into the swinging catchiness of The Dance of the Snakes, switching moods about as fast as they shift gears within individual songs. The first peak of real heaviness on the album comes in the form of Viva Zapata, with its vicious, squealy guitar, relentlessly hypnotic bass, and immense beats, and A Weighted Line nearly matches it in sonic power. These Meanings sounds like an old-forgotten country blues tune, something a lonesome cowboy on the range with nothing around but a herd of cattle, a campfire, and a old guitar might sing to remind himself of the homestead. The closing track, The Shame, is not only powerful and fiercely beautiful, but thematically echoes the sentiments heard at the beginning of the album, bringing the listener full circle.
Totimoshis cryptic, often deliberately ambiguous approach may be heavy on the mystery vibe, but it leaves plenty of room for interpretation of their vision and plenty of opportunities for listeners to form their own interpretations of what it all means. Theyre intelligent, unpredictable, respect their roots, and heavy as hell when it moves them.
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