by / May 15th, 2009 /

Savath y Savalas – La Llama

 3/5 Rating

(Stones Throw)

-Savath y Savalas’ is one of the numerous monikers assumed by hip-hop polymath and inveterate musical knob-twiddler Scott Herren, aka Prefuse 73, aka Delarosa and Asora, aka Piano Overlord. Herren is far from the first musician to declare multiple identities – let’s not forget that Kool Keith transformed himself into a -time-travelling gynaecologist’ – but he’s probably one of the more prolific, having produced no fewer than eleven albums and EPs over the last five years or so, and developed what is invariably described as a -cult following’ in the process.

The stated purpose of Savath y Savalas – a collaboration with Eva Puyuelo Muns, from Catalonia, and Roberto Carlos Lange, from Ecuador – is to produce -Catalan psych-folk’. Obviously, this means next to nothing. Describing the band’s sound isn’t too easy, either. It’s a sort of ethereal mish-mash of indistinct voices singing in (presumably) Catalan with glitchy beat interludes and lightly picked guitar lines. The overall effect is rather like listening to a folk ensemble rehearsing in the next room while you undergo some kind of invasive brain scan.

Herren’s music is never too easy, so perhaps it’s out of line to look for catchy melodies or danceable beats here. And the album is nothing if not pleasant to listen to. But the constant musical shapeshifting is wearing after a while, and all the repeated starting up and breaking off of themes feels aimless rather than groundbreaking. Like its creator, the album has multiple identities; but it’s hard not to wish it would just choose one and stick to it.

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