Las Ardillas, Las Ardillas
Chacho Records, Puerto Rico
by Carlos Reyes
When asked about the significance of the title El Juidero (a slang deviation for ‘the getway’), Rita Indiana Hernandez speaks about an inherited idiosyncrasy known as “la cultura diasporica.” She isn’t talking about the scattering of Jews outside Palestine in times of Babylonian exile, but about a congenital phenomenon in the people of the Caribbean. The regional shared link: feeling the need to run a way from settlement (either personal or political) and having the obligation of contemplating what goes beyond their surrounding waters. The renaissance novelist claimed that all Caribbean people were part of it, even those that stayed in their ancestral homeland.
For over 10 years, Puerto Rican enfant-terribles Las Ardillas have not only shown signs of that runaway diaspora link, they’re so consciously into it that they’ve actually looped its urgency notions into noise-auteur transcendence. The self-titled debut record from Las Ardillas is a daring and sonically traveling piece of noise punk. Sharing two members with the universally beloved Dávila 666 (which has reached a must-enlist status in the music festival circuit) means a few things in the consolidation of Las Ardillas: 1) it has prepared them to contemplate a fondness for an intercontinental stage, 2) it has forced at least two if its members to make a homecoming to earlier roots (in sound and in mapquest), and 3) it has thought them about intellectual reshuffling. The unlikely entourage comprised by Gianky, Koki, Raul, Gio, and Latin Snake may lack the bushy tail appendages of the rodents they’re named after, but at least in perception and spatial memory, they’re more than assuring with their noise punk ecosystem.
When listening to Las Ardillas you can’t help but to think they sound a lot like sister band Dávila 666. But, then again, Dávila sounds a lot like many bands from your college radio. Catchy hooks and disarming on-the-floor rummage speak for a band that has done its homework and carries its influences firmly on its sleeve. Like many revivalist bands, Las Ardillas stand on the tightrope between shared garage nostalgia and affection for pop succession. From its blasting opener “Cancion de Luz,” you can tell these guys are taking a shot toward eternal bliss. How do you even attempt to get to that privileged place on a first album? Well, you could start with yearning catchy lullabies and distorting them to the point of deformation. This is unadulterated and highly flammable Boricua rock.
This amount of a-la-carte demolition works because it is paired up with some of the most charming topics. In one song Las Ardillas sing for a generation that still moves to reggaeton (particularly on the island), on the next one, they dream about becoming Pelé. Structurally, Las Ardillas is a record that could be divided in two. Its first half is like a spare-kicking jumpstart that feels young and hopeful. It’s second half is much darker, with an almost arriving-at-halcyon sense of fatalism. When paring its most blistering tracks (“Nancy” & “Cuando canto esta cancion”) with its most brutal numbers (“Vivo o Muerto” & “El Tren”), you really empathize with the reasoning behind the decade lapse between the band’s formation and its first recording. Las Ardillas is in fact, an album that moves back and forth, one that runs away from resolution, feeling nostalgic on its very own.