The original goal for Tierra Fértil was to make a compilation album of good unknown songs from the underground Argentine scene. Maybe two. But, as soon as we started listening to records and expanding the scope beyond our personal collections, we realized that the amount of quality material that’s sitting there with no apparent destiny is huge.
There’s more: the original idea was to circumscribe the expedition to Argentina only, maybe South America. But now that everything is instantly international, and since we’re finding excellent material from all over the globe, the project might be bigger than we thought.
And although most of the findings are being kept behind closed doors for now —while we’re preparing proper releases— as a sort of teaser, here you can listen to some interesting records, bands and labels.
En La Tierra (2009)
This is one of the albums that inspired the project.
After several incarnations (Palabrisas, Mula Alma, Voz de Indio, Mundo Pez), this duo from Río Gallegos —in the very South of Argentina— comprised by Nahuel Ortega and Juane Bacalentti, incorporates Leandro Espina and Demian Di Santi on percussion and bass, and they record this amazing album that is called just like the band.
Folklore, rock, experimental sounds and lyrics that connect you with above and below, with the Spirit and with everyone else. Sacred plants, worldly loves, three and four part harmonies. Two singers bouncing words back and forth.
If we got the story right, they played live very little or never at all. Everyone kept insisting that they should record more music together, but their paths went separate ways. The album was re-released by Mínima Discos. You can download it for free from bandcamp. Or if you prefer you can stream it from Manoeléctrico’s platforms —Nahuel Ortega’s solo project.
Recommended tracks: En La Tierra / Tonada / Día 24 / En La Selva.
This one is pretty popular yet pretty unknown. Sarah was a UK-based independent label that released mainly 7-inches between 1987 and 1995. Their sound was pretty much guitar-based, with a reminiscence of The Smiths and maybe The Cure. They even anticipated the sound of The Stone Roses a bit. They were known for signing bands fronted by women, which wasn’t the norm back then.
DIY ethos but really stylish artwork and clever written statements. They released 100 singles and then they decided to put an end to the label. They considered it to be more a curatorial project than a business, and maybe that’s why up to this day fans from all over the world are still interested.
This is the record that made it to the big screen on the first Tierra Fértil trailer. A powerful album, recorded live in the studio after months of practice and intensive work with producers Alfredo Toth and Pablo Guyot.
With a strong ricotero touch —international readers: you’ll get it eventually— on songs like “Rodando”, “Rema” and “Estrellas en el cielo”, and also a myriad of more modern rock influences and some mellow tracks as well, this record has a bit for everyone.
Many of these songs are candidates for being re-recorded soon.
A band that arrived before its time. They had a britpop sound and aesthetic in the style of The Verve, Keane, Coldplay, the early Radiohead… they were Muse fans before anyone else knew them in South America. Their sound was very polished, something that set them apart from the rest of the rock scene.
They came from Banfield and Lomas de Zamora —neighborhoods in the Southern part of Greater Buenos Aires. They played for ten years before recording their first proper album. They released two LP’s —Utopic (2004) and Privacy (2007)— before going on hiatus for a few years. In that period two very interesting side projects arised, Moodyman and The Ocean. Then they came back with a long EP (Other Clouds) and a live DVD, If A Tree Falls, where they asked the famous question of whether or not a tree makes noise when falling in the middle of a forest if no one is there to hear it.
The excellent artwork of Guille Stöltzig, another distinctive trait.
Before they split up they played a lot in the little world around the Cavern Club, sharing the stage with tribute bands for the likes of Oasis, Coldplay, etc. They had some big shots as well, opening for Duran Duran, Echo + The Bunnymen, and even Queen + Paul Rodgers.
As many bands, they have a softer side and an aggressive one. In the ballads game we recommend Rainy Days and Staring Out From my Window from Utopic, and Moments from Other Clouds, among many others. Bitter Taste, What’s the point?, Slut, Dark Disease, The Target, are some of the stronger tracks on the crunchy side.
They have a third side, the catchy one, where you have Fake U R from Other Clouds, Shapes and Privacy from Privacy and Yet To Come from Utopic.
They sang in English in a time when it didn’t really work in Argentina, and the possibilities of exporting the band to the international market being an independent band were pretty low.
Oh, we forgot to mention. The guitarist would go on becoming the lead singer for youtube-sensation band Siamés.
Very few people know Crisálida, but most of us are familiar with the work of the man behind the project: Diego Guerrero, aka Warrior or Sr. Warrior, is on the credits of countless underground and mainstream records as the mastering engineer. Some of them while working from Puro Mastering, and others from his own studio Metamorfosis.
Electronic rock and synthwave, over a decade before it was popular. Some call him “the Gustavo Cerati of the underground scene”, and there are some rumors that Cerati himself was a fan and that he would recommend Crisálida’s music to his circle of friends.
Recommended listen would be Música Para Suicidarse (2010), front to back.
Trijaus / Mompox
More folks ahead of their time. If Youtube had been massive back in 2008, maybe the story would have been different.
The story? We don’t know for sure, but it’s something like this: Juan Manuel “Tobe” Tobal and Nacho De Andrés get together to record a dozen weird songs with producer Ezequiel Spinelli. In the words of the latter “never in history did it take so long to record 22 minutes of music”. Apparently their ears were more refined than their hands and they had to re-record everything multiple times until getting it perfect.
Perfect? Yes, perfect.
Stylistically it’s like the Kings of Convenience making a children’s record for grown ups who read Thoreau and listened to Radiohead. Lots of acoustic guitar and ukulele, a very particular voice, orchestral arrangements in the style of Yellow Submarine, on songs that talk about moving to a treehouse in order to get away from society or riding a seahorse in the bottom of the ocean while on LSD.
They never wanted to play live but they would get as far as touring France. They came back and recorded an EP as good as the first album. Now properly named —the first record was called Treehouse and for the second one they were Trijaus, which is how you would pronounce it in Spanish—, they released No Importa (2010), with five new songs and a remix. But the project would be abandoned.
Abandoned for something larger. The duo got together with the producer and some other musicians to form Mompox, who became pretty popular in the emerging scene.
From Treehouse (2008): all the record really. It’s only 22 minutes long.
From No Importa (2010): War Man, When The Rain Attacks, Full Time Time-killer.
De Mompox: Love Is Breaking Me Down (Bit Sweet Bit, 2013), Perfect Service and Nothing But This (Triángulo, 2012).