Las orejas y la lengua are an Argentine band created around the core formed by Diego Kazmierski (keyboards), Nicolàs Diab (bass, guitar) and Fernando de la Vega (drums, percussion). On their two recordings they showed a penchant for unconventional marriage of underdeveloped melodic themes embedded in richly orchestrated but highly sequential arrangements. The succession of pleasantly interwoven topics betrays their hankering toward approachable aesthetics, which sometimes clashes with the more defiant fragments anchored in avant-prog tradition.
High-quality production and wealth of original ideas have so far protected the band from become a derivative of this international genre. One can hope that further successful recordings will see the light of the day.
A powerful flute’n’rhythm section attack instantly awakens our musical taste buds. In two short sections, the stop-go regularity fades away before monotony sets in. This is when a retroactive, meaty guitar introduces a starkly nonlinear fragment with highly selective cymbal playing and a thunderous, almost inert electric bass. Diego Suàrez’s flute penetration is supreme, particularly in the middle range. Diego Kazmierski adds some bandoneon samples, but they are barely recognizable owing to speed treatment. Several olas of dilating flute, bass and percussion will close our first encounter with the band.
Carried triumphantly by the excitable duo of piccolo and acoustic piano, the circus-like intro is stripped down to Cartoon-style basics. Inevitably, the piano penetrates the free jazz land while the Fernando de la Vega’s drumming pre-figures the manual inventiveness of Bad Plus’s David King. Soon after, the piano and bass figure bring back the memories of Steely Dan’s “Ricky Don’t Lose that Number”, sans the actual theme. The flute playing, warm and mostly legato is somewhat reminiscent of J.D. Parran immortalized on Anthony Davis’s classic recordings. Halfway through, another free section kicks in, this time entirely dependent on dampening piano pedals and a snaking flute. Melodic, high-pitched electric bass and easily legible drumset rescue the track from the morass. Sharper flute tonguings appear in a-rhythmic combination with the volatile rhythm section. When the dynamics commences to glow again, the synthesizer turns the hitherto ribboned texture into a more evenly planar arrangement.
This begins with a clanking, almost ‘North American folk’ acoustic guitar. But this will not be John Fahey’s tribute. The drummer and organist join in a now-you-hear-now-you-don’t pattern. Nicolàs Diab’s bows his acoustic bass martelé style until the incipient melodic figure recurs.
Here we are confronted with an exceedingly lazy, Ry Coodish electric guitar and bells. By way of contrast, the samples thrown into this idleness could be sourced from an operating room. But it is dangerous to listen in closely because sudden eruption of guitar pounds forward, Steve Tibbetts’ style (limited grit, measured sustain). After another intersection with low-key samples, a more ‘doom metallic’ guitar section crashes into an electronic echo. In a swift progression of astonishing moods, we quickly move over to a bass & rim shot sequence. In a pivotal moment reminiscent of Metabolist’s LP “Hansten klork”, the tempo accelerates illicitly, though time will run out for another guitar eruption.
The groove is burrowed here by a stable cooperation of the electric bass, guitar, measured rim shots and hi-hat. Will the groove erode? Or will it flick over its momentum onto another structural lattice? We have already learned the lesson not to trust the quieter passages. However, this time, the dynamic progression is gradual, almost imperceptible. A synthesized harmonic glissando expands behind, without affecting the core groove. The flute swivels with just enough echo, a little like in Dom’s unforgettable “Edge of Time”. Goofy samples – female backward singing – perfectly wound into the harmony and fall neatly within the beat.
Ahora sì, chau
Another track which begins with the flavored acoustic guitar. Its zither-like jangle is almost “pretty”. Droll ping pong samples and radio static sounds could make it a tongue-in-cheek interlude penned by Albert Marcoeur.
We first hear car-less street noise samples – multiple human steps, playing children, voices. This is Nicolas Diab’s tour de force and he appears in three roles at once – on a juicy bass guitar, a melodious Rhodes piano, and the acoustic bass played confusingly high, sul tasto on G-string. The flute flutters over and above the piano and drum frames. Dias mistreats his electric bass, testing its low-end capabilities by squeezing the far end of the neck. Then the Hammond steps in, but its threat is distilled by the flute’s softening presence. The mood darkens as this 12-note section repeats a dozen times. Finally, a classicist coda with flute and piano terminates this honest, unpretentious piece.
Disposable Blood Oxigenator
Hearing a dolorous glockenspiel with bass and a flute, one could be excused for recollecting Nino Rota’s poignant “Casanova” soundtrack. Here, the band will not dwell on such throwbacks. Instead, it engages the Hammond organ and acoustic bass con legno, where the strings are tapped with the wood side of the bow. But the tension is quickly released by the flute and organ theme, saucily contacted by the bent (fretless?) bass guitar. Rattling xylophone (Fernando de la Vega) will be a belated invitee to this concoction.
La autopsia de Sandoval
This slow-metered composition first demands a construction of a full-range hexahedron supported by the bass and covered with the flute. But they no sooner build the structure than it is stripped down to the hi-hat and very quiet bass. Even this calm is premature. The Hammond organ adopts a role well known from Italian movie scores by Piero Piccioni or Armando Trovajoli. The flute now has a lot of space to improvise on top. Sudden accelerations of the Hammond/flute duo constitute an interesting update on Supersister’s classic sound. But Diego Suarez is more intrusive than Sacha van Geest ever was and the rhythm section really lives in the 21st century. The last section is a painstaking rock hymn with piccolo doing its best to live up to the Italian tradition.
Another heated, crawling entrée, spiced with static à la Fennesz. This is soon interrupted by a rhythm section and multi-tracked voices of the musicians pronouncing the name of the Argentina’s second largest city. Quick guitar arpeggios with a military drum roll invite even more diverse vocal versions of “Còrdoba”, each closed by a brief synthesizer section. In quick succession, Spanish voices cut in, disorienting the listener. Men and women, old and young appear in dozens of cameo roles, pushing the instruments into the distance.
The band has published two CDs and nothing new has reached the broader audience for almost a decade. They are, apparently, still active and have augmented their line-up with a violinist.
LAS OREJAS Y LA LENGUA: “La eminencia inobjetable” (1996)
LAS OREJAS Y LA LENGUA: “Error” (2000)