Maquiladora, three multi-instrumentalist from San Diego,
was started in 1995 in London by singer Phil Beaumont
(God Machine's manager) and drummer
Eric Nielsen as Loraine. They became Maquiladora when the two returned
to California and enrolled guitarist Bruce McKenzie.
Beaumont and McKenzie are also actors. Nielsen is a painter.
Their first album was Lost Works of Eunice Phelps (Tectonic, 1998),
a collection of country ballads baked by the hot sun of the desert that
run the gamut from the drugged folly of the
Holy Modal Rounders (the silly mantra of
Two-Minute Tour, or the grotesque waltz of The House Of The Hearing)
to the calm poetry of Leonard Cohen
(Mercy Visions, lulled by a romantic accordion).
The solemn baritone of Mayday (whose bass and guitar work recalls Hey Joe)
is contrasted by the blues and spiritual accents of Double Barn Doors (with waveering organ lines),
while the exotic synth-pop of Haamaramaraaa is tempered by the
straightforward folk ballad In the Name of the Song of the Father.
Maquiladora are at their best when the psychotic quality of their music
coalesces in surreal vignettes such as
First Spring, whispered in a wailing falsetto over quiet strumming
and sparse distortions, leading in Mercury Sounds
to a rarified version of Spector's wall of sound.
Along the way one can smell the influences of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan,
Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, but they filtered through the lenses of
a unique form of dementia.
On their second album, White Sands (Lotushouse, 2000),
Maquiladora play several
keyboard and string instruments (organ, xylophone, waterphone, accordion,
dobro, harmonica, piano, guitar, bass), including a golf ball, a frying pan
and a saw, and compose lunatic ballads that fall somewhere between Syd Barrett's
mad folk (Prostitute Song), the eerie stupor of
Cowboy Junkies (So Far Away),
Giant Sand's hallucinated country music
Phil Beaumont sings them with as much pathos as a drunk Tom Waits
(Julian, Itchy Song) or a stoned Neil Young
Their folly is crowned by the
claustrophobic psychodrama of Little Miss (a male and a female moaning
over loud bass lines and lugubrious piano figures), by the
white-noise pseudo-world excursion of Termez 1936 and by the
extended psalm of Bueno Mis Amigos,
where middle-eastern cantillation meets operatic female howling on a bed
(Tradotta da/ translated by Francesco Nunziata)
Maquiladora e' costituito da tre multi-strumentisti di San Diego. Fondato a
Londra nel 1995 dal cantante e multi-strumentista Phil Beaumont,
(manager di God Machine) e da Eric
come Loraine, divenne Maquiladora quando i due tornarono in California e
ed ingaggiarono il chitarrista Bruce McKenzie.
Il loro primo album e' stato Lost Works of Eunice Phelps (Tectonic, 1
Su White Sands (Lotushouse, 2000)
suonano diverse tastiere e strumenti a corda
(organo, xilofono, waterphone,fisarmonica, dobro, armonica, piano chitarra,
comprese una palla da golf, una padella e una sega, e compongono stravaganti
che si collocano da qualche parte tra il folk arrabbiato di Syd Barrett
(Prostitute Song) e la country music allucinata di
Giant Sand (So Far
Mr Grey), ma con un approccio molto piu' dissonante e caotico.
Phil Beaumont le canta con il pathos di un Tom Waits ubriaco (Julian,
Itchy Song) o di un Neil Young stonato (Prostitute Song).
La loro follia e' coronata dal raga esteso di Bueno Mis Amigos e
e dalle incursioni di rumori di fondo in Termez 1936.
Ritual Of Hearts (Better Looking, 2002) abandoned the more
experimental formats and focused on the melody, while maintaining the
ethereal approach in the singing and the arrangement.
The tender, tuneful Ritual Of Hearts could be a
Kendra Smith leftover (borrowing the melody from
the first Velvet Underground album).
Heave is even lighter, almost a renaissance song (one expects a
harpsichord and a violin to pop up at any time).
Even more charming is the childish merry-go-round of A Vow, tastefully
arranged so as to bridge late Beach Boys
and early Belle And Sebastian.
Maquiladora can pack an impressive amount of poetry in such brief vignettes.
Maquiladora's old, hallucinated style is revived in
the moving, seven-minute She's More Beautiful To me Than Water And Pure,
a slow, dilated litany delivered with the intensity of a zen meditation
amid catatonic dissonances and drones.
Static Hum, that closes the album, is the ultimate psychedelic mantra,
a magic incantation lulled by a guitar motif worth of a lullaby
until it dissolves in a mist of sweet drones and loose notes.
Elsewhere Maquiladora harks back to the regular format of the country ballad,
and there the results are mixed: the songs are more personal and sincere than
ever, but only I'm In Love and Dream Of Snakes manage to
attain the splendor of their most experimental work.
No matter how competent and poignant, here Maquiladora sound like yet
another alt-country band.
Possibly a compromise between the too obvious structure of the country songs
and the open-ended format of the psychedelic ballads, Chinese Girl
is both the most touching song and the emotional peak of the album,
with a melody that would have enthralled San Francisco's hippies.
For at least 30 minutes this album is a supernatural experience.
What the Day Was Dreaming (Darla, 2003) continues Maquiladora's progress
towards a new canon of psychedelic country-rock with a dozen medium-length
A few are relatively straight-forward (Sudden Life, So High,
but most indulge in their trademark other-dimensional hymnody.
The hazy lament of All for Nothing;
the dreamy, slow-waltzing Drunk and Lighting Fires, that involves vibraphone and trumpet and resonates with the angst of the likes of Neil Young, Tom Waits and Morphine;
the languid, almost motionless Liam, that evokes Leonard Cohen's most intimate meditations;
are the tracks that truly set the pace for this journey to the center of the psyche.
The album frequently dives to almost subsonic levels.
The plaintive Heartbroken for whisper, piano, guitar and sonic nebula;
the bossanova of Dr Said No (Brazilian-style cantillation, drum-machine, thunder);
the sparse dialogue of Seaweed, wrapped in a mist of wadded tones and whirling electronics;
seem to progressively release the tension while augmenting the level of introspection.
While still lost somewhere between the California desert and outer space, this is Maquiladora's most personal and sincere album yet.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini) |
Ritual Of Hearts (Better Looking, 2002) abbandona il formato sperimentale
in virtù di un approccio più melodico, ma mantiene purtuttavia
l'approccio etereo negli arrangiamenti e nel modo di cantare. La tenera, orecchiabilissima
Ritual Of Hearts potrebbe essere uno scarto di Kendra
Smith (rubando la melodia dal primo album dei Velvet Underground). Heave
è ancor più leggere, quasi una canzone rinascimentale (ci si aspetta
che da un momento all'altro entrino un clavicembalo ed n violino). Ancor più
affascinante è la burla bambinesca di A Vow, gradevolmente arrangiata
da ricordare i primi Beach Boys e i tardi
Belle And Sebastian. Maquiladora riescono
ad impacchettare un impressionante quantità di poesia in vignette così
Il vecchio stile allucinato cui i Maquiladora ci hanno abituato, torna nei moviemntati
sette minuti di She's More Beautiful To me Than Water And Pure, una litania
lenta e dilatata eseguita con la stessa intensità di una meditazione
zen rotta da dissonanze e droni catatonici.
Static Hum, che chiude l'album, è il nuovo mantra psichedelico, una
fiaba magica cullata da una frase chitarristica degna di una ninnananna finché
non si disperde in una nebbia di droni dolci e note sparute.
Altrove i Maquiladora tornano al formato tradiozionale della ballata country,
e qui i risultati sono molteplici: le canzoni sono più personali e sincere
che mai, ma solo I'm In Love e Dream Of Snakes riescono a raggiungere
lo splendore dei loro lavori più sperimentali. Non importa con quanta
competenza e perizia, ma qui i Maquiladora sembrano essere un'altra band di
Forse un compromesso tra le forme, troppo ovvie, del country e le forme aperte
delle ballate psichedeliche, Chinese Girl è al contempo la canzone
più toccante e il picco emozionale dell'album, con una melodia che avrebbe
ammaliato gli hippies di San Francisco
Per almeno mezz'ora, questo album è un'esperienza soprannaturale.
What the Day Was Dreaming (Darla, 2003) continua il cammino dei Maquiladora
verso una nuova forma di country-rock psichedelico con una dozzina di ballate
di lunghezza media. Alcune sono relativamente dirette (Sudden Life, So
High, Revolution), ma molte sono costruite sul loro personale marchio.
Il lamento nebbioso di All for Nothing; la sognante e lenta Drunk
and Lighting Fires, che include un vibrafono e una tromba e richiama l'aggressività
di gente del calibro di Neil Young, Tom Waits e Morphine; la languida, quasi
statica Liam, che evoca le meditazioni più intime di Leonard Cohen;
sono le tracce che veramente impostano lo stato d'animo per questo viaggio al
centro della psiche.
L'album scivola frequentemente verso altri livelli subsonici. La lamentosa Heartbroken
per sospiri, piano, chitarra e nebulose soniche; la bossanova di Dr Said
No (cantilena in stile brasiliano, drum-machine, tuoni); lo sparuto dialogo
di Seaweed, avvolto da una bruma di toni ovattati e turbine elettroniche,
sembrano rilasciare progressivamente la tensione aumentando, d'altra parte,
il livello di introspezione.
Sempre perso da qualche parte tra il deserto californiano e gli spazi aperti,
questo è ad oggi l'album più sincero e personale dei Maquiladora.
Kiss Over (Acid Mothers Temple, 2005) is a colossal collaboration with
Acid Mothers Temple's Kawabata.
A House All on Fire (Darla, 2005) contains the jangling country elegy
Blackened and Damned and the lengthy somnolent whispered Katella Avenue Blues, but the music is too fragile.
Buzz Or Howl is a side-project by Maquiladora's
guitarists Eric Nielsen and Bruce McKenzie.
Worship the Sun As the Destroyer of Dreams (Lotushouse, 2006) contains
two extended jams a` la Acid Mothers Temple.
Western Mystery School (Lotus House, 2008) was a collaboration between Buzz Or Howl (Bruce McKenzie and Eric Nielsen) with Astro (Hiroshi Hasegawa), also
structured as two lengthy jams: Nine Months for banjo, synthesizer, guitar and vocals (an exercise in free-form sparse disjointed counterpoint that
takes 19 minutes to acquire some substance),
and The Sins (14 minutes of a virulent wall of white noise with Hendrix-style guitar acrobatics followed by a thick industrial fog of abrasive electronics and guitar with a coda of anthemic guitar distortion).
San Diego's duo High Mountain Tempel (Maquiladora's guitarist Eric Nielsen and noise-maker Keith Boyd)
employed field recordings that exhibit an "African jungle" quality as well as
ghostly human and animal voices buried deep into the mix to craft
animate dronescapes that hid (while nurturing) tiny metabolic events on
Pacific Sky Burial - Axaxaxas Mlo (Lotus House, 2007). The four pieces
of the album, separated by brief interludes, exude an ancestral mystical
dimension, each one from a different perspective. The
eight-minute Tempel Walk indulges in a
calmly dijointed and chaotic soundscape that includes junk percussion, strummed
instruments and imitations of natural sounds.
The sixteen-minute Harkonen Veda swims in
distorted drones that seem obtained from processing natural sounds as well as
from keyboards and that are reminiscent of the early electronic experiments of the 1960s.
The fifteen-minute guitar tour-de-force Drugsmeditationhypnosis is the most overtly cosmic-psychedelic trip, beginning with a majestic ambient multi-tiered buzz (something that Steve Roach might have done in the 1980s) and then turns into a colossal distorted "om".
The ten-minute Feast of the Preta is the brainy, conceptual piece here,
basically a dissonant chamber electroacoustic composition.
This album de facto established four different methods to express the duo's
ecstasy and angst.
By the same token, its follow-up
A Screaming Comes Across The Sky - The Faultline Scriptures (Lotus House, 2007)
sounded like a brooding soundtrack to collective spiritual catharsis.
A wavering drone pierces the lattice of ghostly noises in the
15-minute Dispatch 23 from the Kali Yuga
before electronically-filtered voices begin appearing
and warping the textures into an alternative swirling universe,
halfway between Jimi Hendrix's 1983
and Karlheinz Stockhausen's Hymnen.
The ten-minute Ruins of the Empire unleashes whistling drones that
mutate into screams from distant galaxies or hellish depths.
The sixteen-minute A Screaming Comes Across The Sky is another boiling
cosmic "om" that expands in all directions like a flow of lava, obliterating
any semblance of dynamics along the way. However, after ten minutes the music
subsides and becomes a more humane (but far less powerful) buzz.
The Glass Bead Game (Lotus House, 2008), for which High Mountain Tempel added multi-instrumentalist Ras Al Hnout (notably on theremin and moog), was less cryptic and more humane.
After the suspenseful solo synth piece Humming in the Night's Skull,
the sixteen-minute Alchemical Space Station weds
fluctuating electronic sounds and psychedelic distortions.
The ten-minute The Motherhouse surrounds a recording of
Father Yod with bubbling electronics.
This album is a lot less intense and less visceral than the first two.
The more electronic sound and more professional production seem to detract a bit from the emotional impact.
Pilgrimage to Thunderbolt Pagoda (2009) is a split album between High Mountain Tempel and the Earthling Society.
The highlight of the HMT tracks is
the hypnotically drifting multi-textured drone of Omega Point, followed
by the concerto for distortion and percussion of
Celestial Inhabitants of the Sun.
The Earthling Society pens the last four tracks, which are a lot more musical,
the cascading melody and tinkling notes of The House On The Borderland
the crescendo of distortion Something Good Will Come To You.
The propulsive space-rock of Uruk is a collaboration between the two groups.
Maquiladora's Wirikuta (Lotus House, 2010) takes the dreamy sound of
What the Day Was Dreaming to austere heights.
There are moments of simple naif eloquence:
the gentle weightless litany These Treasured Gowns That I've Worn,
the sleepy martial singalong Gut Check (Richard Manuel's Blues) (Neil Young in slow motion),
the graceful lullaby We Are Not In This Together
The languor veers towards the mystical ecstasy of India with
the humble hymn Anvartha-nakhadana,
the languid organ-based "om" of The Lighting Of The Night
and the accordion-led meditation of Bottom Of The Still.
These are elongated pieces in which the vocals drone more than sing, and
owe more to
Popol Vuh's Hosianna Mantra than
to acid-rock or country-rock.
And the emotional core of the album pushes the envelop further. The
disjointed and dissonant instrumental counterpoint Beyond What You See
hints at a form of chamber country-rock. Then
Song 26 unleashes some tenderly impossible jamming
while evoking the spectre of the most doleful Gram Parsons.
The ten-minute (Don't) Eat The Past (Don't) Eat The Fear sounds like a
ghostly requiem amid a whirling mist of musique concrete with a shy nostalgic piano line that writes poems on the blind noise of the universe; and
suddenly the existential Gram Parsons has mutated into a metaphysical Robert Wyatt.
The profound lament of D(obro) To F treads in a landscape full of
crystal balls to attain its quasi-anthemic quality, and it feels like
David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name redux.
The rhythm is a sound effect and the singing borders on Gregorian chant in the
nine-minute Hymn 66, and, after some hypnotic repetition, guitar noise
hijacks the music towards pure cacophony.
Maquiladora's drum-less madrigals constitute an endless exploration of
otherworldly moods and places.
Maquiladora's Eric Nielsen and Bruce McKenzie joined forces with
Skygreen Leopards' Glenn Donaldson
to form Beggars, whose double-disc Beggars (Lotushouse, 2013)
is a tour de force of ecstatic Eastern-influenced freak-folk.
Mostly these pieces lean towards the traditional song format, although
inevitably deformed by the musicians' pedigrees.
The ghostly hyper-dilated drones of Ghost Coyote are imbued with
quasi-Morricone western-movie guitar twang and even harmonica.
The sweet lullaby and the trotting pace of Eureka My Love
as well as the romantic honky-tonking Justine
(with a refrain a bit reminiscent of Dylan's Blowing in the Wind)
hark back to the heydays of country-rock.
2-3-74 Floating evokes the martial laments of the young
Neil Young although diluted amid
discordant guitar jamming and lulled by waves of funereal vocal harmonies.
Berserker's Boogie is a lively and poppy almost-bluegrass tune.
They even intone the singalong Queen Anne's Lace
with drums, banjo and all.
the spaced-out yodeling of Lullaby de Bourbon
(memories of Aoxomoxoa-era Grateful Dead),
the free-form quasi-jazz guitar and vocal interplay of
Will We Call It Love,
the seven-minute dreaming psalm Big Pink Sun and its sublimely
remind us of what Maquiladora are best at.
The 23-minute Midget Decapitates Clown is an ambitious concerto
for suspense and agony. Far from being just a droning piece, it piles up
sonic event after sonic event, producing the trancey effect out of a
multitude of traumatic sounds. The chirping and tweeting that accumulates
half-way into the piece decays into a nervous organic filigree and dies away
in the most cryptic manner; one of the high points of Maquiladora's
High Mountain Tempel's fourth album
Gnosis (Lotushouse, 2014) paints
Eric Nielsen and Keith Boyd as more lost than ever in their schizophrenic maze.
elongated invocation Processional (sung, or, better, exhaled, by fellow Maquiladora member Bruce McKenzie),
the album sinks into the
psychedelic time dilation of the nine-minute The Wormwood Parchments,
into what feels like inhabits a shaman's subconscious.
The eight-minute Once Upon a Golden Mountain meanders inside a breeze
of whispers and echoes punctuated by spare bell and piano notes, but then
resorts to pointless spoken word sections.
An exhilarating peak of dementia materializes with the nine-minute
electroacoustic suite Root Food Deer-Mating, that also features
Kawabata Makota (Acid Mothers Temple),
followed by the collectively hissing Vu Lan Ghost, with Hiroshi Higashi's
synth helping to craft some of the most trance-inducing vortexes.
The songs on
Maquiladora's The Passion of Becky Royal (LotusHouse, 2015) are the
ultimate specimen of dilated psychedelia.
Some take forever to get started as they begin with instrumental introductions that
are often worth more than the singing parts:
It Is begins with a lengthy subdued drone,
the beginning of The Revenge Of Becky Royal is beyond ethereal
(liquid, aquatic, intergalactic dust),
and Sleeping In The Dream House is entirely wordless over Indian tablas and a Nico-esque organ lament.
Extreme tenderness emanates from somnolent litanies like
Elijah's Bird Song and
Capitol Hill Blues #1.
Water Memory is a relatively simple distorted psychedelic elegy, although it goes on for seven minutes.
The other seven-minute piece, Lost Owl Svtra, begins as a similar stoned elegy, but is wrapped in a thicker acid fog and at some point it derails in cacophony.
It's an uneven collection, but with moments of serene magic.
After recovering from a serious car accident, Nielsen
started Sen K
with his wife Krista of Chinchilla
and they debuted with Allele (2023).