Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PONCHO-Ponchototal (Nacional Records, 2010)

Argentine DJ Javier Zuker was one of the first ones, if not the first, to cross over between the historically dogmatic local rock scene and the sometimes equally dogmatic local dance scene. Finding strong resistance to such connections from both sides, his wasn't the easiest raise to fame, but he kept on doing his thing on his own and eventually it paid off. He earned the much deserved respect from some old school rockers avid of experimentation with new trends (Divididos, Gustavo Cerati) and started collaborating with them. Around the same time, the rave scene was living its apogee and he would dare to mix in Metallica in his Creamfields' set when progressive house was the dominant style of choice of a whole nation.
After over two decades behind the turntables Zucker, who used to be a musician before he became a DJ, finally decided to start his own band and record his own songs, thus came Poncho and this excellent debut album, Ponchototal. At a first glance it may seem like your average Euro-Dance/Techno/Electro-Pop, and you might wonder what's doing in Nacional's catalog, but a closer look will reveal the unavoidable rock influences of Zucker, fueled by a vast list of prestigious guests, including rock en español's godfather Luís Alberto Spinetta himself. Local rockers Banda De Turistas and Divididos show up too while some international guests (Shannon Funchess from !!! and British DJ Justin Robertson) aim to give the record some well deserved foreign exposure.
Now, the band's name, Poncho can be a bit misleading. If you are expecting some sort of techno approach to local folkloric sounds (ponchos were the favored fashion of many South American native tribes and later gauchos) you might be a bit disappointed. This is not Zizek. The only roots Zuker digs in for this project are the roots of the long tradition of rock music that forms the average Argentine musical DNA, plus some cool references to 80's early techno and synth-pop.
I'm not a techno nerd, and I grew up at a deliberately prudent distance from most the local rock scene that to me -and many from the hip-hop generation- represented the establishment, the musical status-quo. But I can't deny that this appeals to something buried deep in my subconscious that makes me connect automatically from the first note. I instantly fell in love with it from the moment I heard the intro and even though it's not exactly my style, I know I'll be somehow mixing some of it into my sets.

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