jueves, 16 de abril de 2009


Dendritis – April 16, 2007

The first time I saw a Dendritis show was also the first time they played, July 31st of last year in La Castorera. The enormous, wood-paneled antique ballroom was full, and the duo set up on the floor, wrapped in the audience’s semicircle by chairs, sofas and mattresses. They were nervous, but charming in an anxious kind of way, and the few false starts or small, skittish mistakes that they made were quickly forgiven by a supremely empathetic crowd whose raucous applause between songs broke the otherwise brilliant silence. Repeated calls for an encore were rebuked, as the band had only 7 songs, and they had already played them all.

Their balanced and reduced way of playing makes it hard not to like Dendritis. Made up of Julio Nusdeo (guitar, vocals), and Leila G. Barthe (cello), the band is loose and jangly in their subtleness and more interested in exploring “moods and sounds” than composing pop music, says Barthes.

Nusdeo and Barthes met at college while they were both studying journalism. Nusdeo had played in various rock bands, but Barthe’s experience within groups was limited; she would explore the possibilities of writing and performing while doing it. “I wanted to play the cello, but not in a traditional way, and Julio wanted to do something more acoustic,” explains Barthe.

This unique perspective is part of what gives Dendritis their charm: not having solid backgrounds in folk and the like (although Nusdeo has a self-confessed love of Atahualpa Yupanqui’s early recordings) and openly shunning mainstream Argentine acts, the band’s template for both songwriting and performance is something seldom seen in these parts. They assemble a bricolage of ephemeral ideas and subtly weave them together with minimalist, airy instrumentation.

The vacuous “Nada” is one of their best-realized songs to date. Recorded with one microphone on a 4-track, the song opens with a lone, bleak shaker, followed by a single string on the guitar which is then doubled by the cello, oscillating between the root note and the fifth at painfully slow intervals. Nusdeo’s half-sung, sometimes unintelligible lyrics creep in at a distance, fade out, and come back again. The song progresses, a slide enters that is so heavy on the backbeat that it scarcely keeps up with the cello’s grumbling drone. And it ends almost unexpectedly, much as it started, like a half-formed idea that is all the better for being left unfinished.

Dendritis will be performing without amplification tonight in una.casa, an art gallery in San Telmo. Playing like this “you don't have to worry about amps, a P.A system and all that stuff,” explains Nusdeo. “And it's fascinating to create an atmosphere using that intensity.”


with SpringLizard, (The) Corporate Media
Thursday April 16th
una.casa Humberto 1º 561 in San Telmo
9pm. Free


jueves, 9 de abril de 2009

Las Kellies

Aerobics instructors, escaped mental patients, Goths, Teddy Roosevelts on safari: the communal closet of Las Kellies must look like the Halloween store near my childhood home in New Jersey. When I would pass by, let’s say, in the sweltering asphalt summers of August, I would inevitably wonder, “Do people really buy this crap the other 11 ½ months of the year?” Well, yes, they do. They buy everything in the store. And they wear it on stage in Buenos Aires.

Las Kellies (conveniently sharing the same surname: Cechi Kelly: vocals, guitar, percussion; Silcho Kelly: vocals, drums; Betty Kelly: vocals, bass; Solchu Kelly: vocals, percussion) began playing a little over three years ago after meeting at a local show and, as Silcho Kelly explains, “immediately realized that we had to start a band together.” The fact that their musicianship was limited in the beginning, or that the idea of a band precluded the artistic execution proved to be no hindrance, as the women began writing songs and learning to play at the same time á la The Ramones.

This kind of outsider/insider music making has had interesting musical implications for Las Kellies: part minimalist girl punk and part irreverent garage, the band seems to be more indebted to the B-52s or perhaps Television in their more pop moments than to other oft-mimicked girl punk outfits like The Slits or Sleater-Kinney. Deftly using a reduced palate where each instrument has its own particular voice and seldom overlaps with the others, Las Kellies are able to squeeze everything a song should have into 2 minute thought fragments with 3 part harmonies in German or French or most any other Western European language, and all this with incredibly frenetic patience.

Las Kellies are currently finishing up their second album, Kalimera, with the help of Nacho Rodriguez (Onda Vaga, Doris), due out in a few months time, before they embark on their first European tour.

The tour “is a long time fantasy of the band, and suddenly it seemed silly to put it off any longer,” explains Betty Kelly. Starting in Barcelona, Las Kellies will be playing at weddings and on boats in various well-mapped rivers, among other venues, and will also have a single released by Parisian label Legrandbag (Mark Gardener, The Willowz, et al).

This Friday, Las Kellies can be found performing at Ultra Bar (San Martin 678). “Last time we played loads of business-boys turned up in school uniforms,” says Betty Kelly. “That was fun! This time we'll be calling for them to take their clothes off!”

Las Kellies
Friday April 10th – Ultra Bar – San Martin 678 – 9pm
Saturday April 18th – Moonrock –Juncal 1773 – 10pm

jueves, 2 de abril de 2009

The Ganjas

The Ganjas

The air is stiflingly hot on calle Suecia, the drag in the Santiago, Chile where one finds club after club of obnoxiously generic house music, girls wrapped in tasteless bait-ware, and over-gelled guys in their finest after-office apparel with their noses to the wind like wolves.

Obstinately planted in the epicenter of this mayhem is Mist, a saloon style bar complete with swinging double doors and wood paneling, owned by Aldo Benincasa, drummer of one of the best contemporary bands in Chile, a post-grunge stoner rock combo called The Ganjas.

Since the opening of Mist three years ago, the place has become both a hangout for underground musicians as well as a beacon of the independent Chilean music scene, with the Ganjas headlining shows on a monthly basis to regularly sold-out crowds.

The Ganjas were formed in 2000 by Samuel Maquieira (guitar and vocals), Rafael Astaburuaga (bass), and Benincasa, with a second guitarist (Pablo Giadach) joining two years ago. The four hail from disparate Chilean backgrounds: Maquieira is the son of a famous Chilean poet; Astaburuaga is a mycologist (his mushrooms are known all throughout Chile); Giadach is a sound engineer; Benincasa is a photographer. And yet their ability to work together as musicians has led to an impressive output: the release of an early EP, a split with the now defunct Argentine band The Jacqueline Trash, and 4 highly acclaimed LPs, with another one on the way in mid-April.

During a normal night at Mist, Benincasa can be found relating Ganjas tour anecdotes about buying marijuana for Mike Mills of R.E.M, touring with a never-ending hangover throughout Brazil with Helmet, or barhopping with Juanse of Los Ratones Paranoicos.

Musically, the band wears many different masks, all of them stamped with the distinct Ganja seal: from Mogwai’s shoegazing slowcore to Black Sabbath’s bleak heaviness; from Lee Perry’s jungle of dub to Sunn O)))’s voluminous noise waves.

Within the space of a few bars, a song will change from a heavy, spaced-out reggae groove to an over-the-top Comets on Fire-esque explosion of noise, and it is not atypical for a ten song Ganjas set to last close to two hours. This is a band conscious of their style, which although varied, is always recognizable as singular.

“We’re basically a rock band, that lives like any rock band, because for the music to sound right, to be the kind of rock we want to play, we have to translate what makes us human into music,” comments Maquieira. “It’s what comes out when we plug in. It’s who we are.”

On Saturday they arrive in Argentina for two shows as part of the Cordillera on Fire tour, smoke in tow.



The Ganjas w/ Los Palos Borrachos, Utopians
Saturday, April 4th, Makena – Fitzroy 1519
Midnight – 15 pesos

The Ganjas w/ Humo del Cairo, The Baseball Furies
Sunday, April 5th , Centro Cultural Zaguan del Sur – Moreno 2320
8pm – 15 pesos