Coconot – Cosa Astral

Coconot - Casa Astral

Coconot - Casa Astral

The Cosa Astral experience begins with the track “Conversad El Rayo” and within 30 seconds you’re remarking that you’ve never heard anything quite like it. You look at the album cover, with its Polaroid of some kid holding a maraca in front of a pile of maracas, and you think “How serious can this be?” (oh and when you leaf through the other pictures inside the sleeve you think it must all be a joke). It’s only after a few songs that you realize that Coconot have taken Krautrock, psychedelia, and Caribbean influences and put them together into what must be a sui generis stew as full of charms as ideas.

The three members of Coconot all have their own past and present musical projects (notably, Pablo Diaz-Reixa’s El Guincho) so maybe this project is some sort of supergroup. All I know is that it’s bound to stir interest in those projects, if only just to see where to find roots for Coconot’s kind of ingenuity. The Latin and Caribbean inflections, together with the Spanish lyrics, dominate the overall feel of Cosa Astral. But it’s the ambient guitar and repetitive rhythms that bend your mind. “Polen Muchacha!” goes from being a swaying, cruise-ship number to a This Heat B-side in a heartbeat — disembodied sounds, glitchy (subtle) electronics, a quick prog-rock guitar run or two. With “Miles De Ojos” it’s looped vocals, guitar overtones, and chanted Spanish lyrics. It’s either celebratory or menacing, or maybe both at the same time. Do you give in or do you stay away?

The very island-y and comparatively traditional “Verbena De Los Delfines” floats like a smiling cloud before the carnival chaos of “Si Apuntas Y No Matas Todo” gets going. The latter is laid-back but disquieting somehow, and about halfway through its loops slow and the stop-start electronic drums get a hearing. And in the background there’s something — keyboard? guitar? — laying down a minor-key sound that’s like a rainstorm on a sunny day. “Te Tenia En Cinta” also breaks about halfway through, but it’s second half is hyped up (punkish) Caribbean percussion and bass. The Krautrock “Tao” throws in some dub and turns a mechanistic beat into a dance rhythm. Remember English Beat’s W’Happen?

So the long and short of it is this: Cosa Astral will defy efforts to have itself categorized. It’s an experience in the way that other left-field experimental albums have been experiences (Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs, for instance, or Enon’s first record). After a while, once you’ve acclimated, it all makes a lot more sense and starts to sound perfectly natural. It’s initial exoticism and seemingly incompatible elements fuse into something almost otherworldly.