I’ve been sitting here for a while now, trying to come up with the right words to use in describing Totimoshi’s new album, entitled Ladron. My first urge is to pepper this review with words such as “density,” “ponderous,” “hypnotic,” or the ever cliché-riddled “heavy.” As I’m sure you’ve noticed, however, all that such words manage to do is to all say the same thing, while basically managing to say nothing at all.
Surely there has to be something I can say that will cut through this review the way that the opening guitar riff cuts through the thick baseline on the album’s opening (and title) track, “Ladron”? Having found that magnificent opening sentence, I could then ride along in echo of the chunky rhythms created by bassist Meg Castellanos and drummer Tyler Cox.
It would all be so easy.
But easiness is not the first thing that comes to mind when listening to Totimoshi’s music. Of all the words that I might use to describe the sounds that are pouring from my stereo’s speakers, in fact, easy is the last of the bunch.
Brooding, or even thoughtful; yeah, that might work. Maybe.
In an interview from StonerRock, Castellanos described the band’s sound as being “definitely (a) heavy, crunchy, grindy rock with an emphasis on Spanish sounding melodies.”
Totimoshi come by that Spanish (or more precisely, Latin) influence naturally. Main songwriter, guitarist, and visionary, Tony Aguilar is the son of migrant farm workers, while Castellanos, herself, is half-Cuban. Perhaps it is the presence of that deeply ingrained heritage that allows Totimoshi to separate themselves from the average “heavy” rock bands that are out there today?
Perhaps it is what also allows their music to transcend genres and expectations, and eventually land full-blown and triumphant in its uniqueness?
Perhaps it might have a great deal to do with the fact that I can’t even begin to describe the deep-down thrill that is listening to Ladron while lying in the dark with my headphones on? That it might have a whole hell of a lot to do with why I feel heavy and awkward and tongue (finger?) tied as I try to write about the sound of the music?
So. Ladron. Okay, let’s talk about it. According to Aguilar, the whole concept of the album is to be found within the title itself. Ladron, you see, means “thief” in Spanish.
In various interviews, Aguilar mentions that our current society isn’t much different from those of times past. We’re just at a place when the choices made by our government may prove crucial to us all, only there are no visionaries in seats of power to help lead people in the right direction… only thieves.
Drenched in somber chords and amazingly dense structure, Ladron certainly hints at being comprised of musicianship and passion aimed at representing something substantial and relevant.
While I’m not quite sure of that, if you didn't know there was an actual theme beneath the songs, you would consciously come to that conclusion — the songs do manage to cohesively do something very few releases do these days. They all add up to one album — one piece of music.
From the bare-bone beat and joyous melody of the opening track, to stop-start lurch of “In Virgo,” to the crazy catchiness of “The Dance of the Snakes,” to the sublime and densely heavy thunder of “Viva Zapata,” all the way down to the power and fierce beauty of the closing track,” The Shame,” Ladron is something otherworldly in today’s age of records being released with maybe 2-3 solid songs and ten filler tracks.
It’s an honest-to-goodness album.
That, I think, is ultimately what tied my brain in knots and wouldn’t allow me to write about Ladron in quite the same manner as I’m able to write about other releases. The fact that Totimoshi has challenged my ears with something worth the effort, was perhaps something that I wasn’t ready for at first.
I’m not giving up, though. No. I’m going to sit here and close my eyes and get down to some full-body wrestling with this album; I’m going to challenge myself to rise to its level.
I’m going to do all this… and I’d like to invite you all to come with me. Totimoshi’s Ladron, if you have any desire to listen to a band stretch its wings and take flight with true passion and musicianship, is certainly worth your time and money.