Words by Jack McKinnon, Internal Music Director 22-23′
The quartet you didn’t know that you needed to know about, Caramelo Haze. This group of four talented musicians have put together their debut album NOESTÁSAQUÍ (you aren’t here) and it definitely makes you feel as such, out of this world. The quartet explores and nails the genre of latin psychedelic music in a totally innovative way. Before diving into this album however, let’s take a look at who we’re dealing with here.
Caramelo Haze consists of Beto Martínez, Alex Chavez, Victor “El Guámbito” Cruz, and John Speice, all accomplished producers, songwriters, and musicians that have had their fair share of experience within the music industry. These kinds of roles–producing, songwriting, and contributing instrumentally–often leads to careers in which you may never truly experience being in the limelight. While some people may strive for that, this group decided to come together and finally make a name for themselves in the eyes of listeners. Within the group there are a few Grammy Award winners, as well as some members with past involvement with the supergroup Grupo Fantasma, which showcases that they are not lacking in musical talent whatsoever.
When it comes to their album, it really is something out of the ordinary, but that doesn’t mean it is bad. This IS an alternative, non-commercial radio station, so it fits right at home here in our music library. Listening through NOESTÁSAQUÍ, it is evident the group is just having fun making music, and that’s what I love about it. Although still cohesive, the project is sporadic and exciting, always leaving you with a sense of wonder after each song. It is an interesting blend of genres that takes influence from more traditional latin music, electronic music, as well as soul and rock. An exciting listen front to back, not knowing what kind of blend you are going to get next. In their own words, “they improvised their way through a sonic landscape where Afro-Colombian folklore met steamy South Texas soul, where psychedelic Americana blended with the soaring highland sounds of Central Mexico.”
This improvisation led to exciting tracks such as “Goza El Calor,” roughly translated to “Enjoy The Heat,” which has a bassline all throughout that makes you want to move your body. Later in the song, the introduction of a more involved drum beat with emphasis on the many hi-hat hits picks up the pace even more, playing into that danceable energy. “Something About Goodbye” slows it down a little bit with a more passionate song featuring vocalist Amalia Mondragón, whose voice fits perfectly with the dreamy vibe of the entire album. Looking closer at “Window Seat,” which, like other songs on the project, shares similarities of an amazing variety of traditional instrumentals throughout the song (such as drums, bass, and piano). It is simultaneously a perfect example of the electronic influence, with heavy synth accompanying the chorus.
NOESTÁSAQUÍ is definitely worth the listen. It is an album that could be used as a gateway between people that listen to a variety of different genres to reach a common ground and enjoy this unique music together. Whether you’re used to the traditional cumbias, love techno beats, or can’t live without dream pop, this album will provide you with a little bit of everything to fulfill your needs and more. The carefree music playing really shines through the music and it is always nice seeing artists come out of their shells a little bit to make something out of the ordinary, especially since these guys were primarily studio musicians before. Hopefully they don’t stop here and continue to make more music as a group, for their debut album shows a lot of promise.