Archive for May 6th, 2010

Masterpiece: Kiko

6 May 2010

[Today: Riding the slipstream…]

Kiko is an album that lives in the wee hours, when the tissue thin membrane between dreams and reality becomes a slipstream into another world. “I’ll teach you to jump on the wind’s back, and away we go,” promised Peter Pan, but this is an album that rides the rails and travels the back alleys to Never Never Land. The title track sees a young boy drifting off to sleep and gazing at the lavender moon before taking flight into a world of imagination. The songs here might be about his adventures in dreamland, or they might be about all the things that happen once the sun goes down and the stars come out. Either way, this is an original blend of latin styles, roots rock, and psychedelia.

Los Lobos came rumbling out of East LA and into the Los Angeles punk scene of the late-70s. They spent their first five albums establishing a solid roots sound, but nonetheless became best known for a cover of Ritchie Valens’ ‘La Bamba’ for the movie of the same name. By the time they got around to Kiko, they were looking to take their sound in a new direction and bring some novel musical elements into the mix. Songs like ‘Two Janes’ and ‘Short Side Of Nothing’ feature characters looking to break free of familiar terrain, and they were created by a band that was looking to do the same.

Released in May of 1992, this experimental tour-de-force is without a doubt Los Lobos’ masterwork. From South African Mbaqanga to New Orleans marches to angelic harp and beyond, the varying sounds and styles captured here make this a veritable concept album about rural music. It’s the sound of a circus train traveling from town to town along the back roads, visiting many different and colorful locations without ever leaving the solid tracks that allow it to move forward. Kiko has aged extremely well, and its melancholy air is balanced with enough loose joy to make this an album worth discovering over and over again…

Listen: Kiko And The Lavender Moon

Listen: Saint Behind The Glass

Listen: Dream In Blue