First, let’s get the criticism out of the way.
What genius told Zurdok to drop a 12-minute avant-garde musique concrete piece in the middle of a largely tuneful, rocking album?
The quartet’s second album, Hombre sintetizador, moves along nicely untill it hits a second version of the album’s title track.
Then, for 23 percent of the album’s total time, “Hombre sintetizador II” brainwashes listeners into forgetting they were listening to a rock album.
As a separate piece of music, “Hombre sintetizador II” is a terrific work, dischordant, daring — absolutely worthy for an album released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label.
But smack dab in the middle of some of the coolest haunting, aggressive music to come out of Monterrey, Mexico? Sorry, but file that one under “misstep”.
That transgression aside, Hombre sintetizador is a great discovery.
Zurdok participated in a few select dates on the 2001 Watcha Tour, and the group scored its first hit with “Abre los ojos”. Zurdok’s sound calls to mind the ambient moodiness of Japan’s Walrus juxtaposed with the grunge-iness of Alice in Chains.
“Abre los ojos” alternates between larger-than-life power chords and restrained verses.
On “Si quieres llegar muy lejos” and “¿Cuanto pasos?”, Zurdok keeps the arrangement minimal but dramatic, the former track sporting timpiani rolls, the latter a mouth harp and banjo.
As the album progresses, the songs get more forward. “Si me advertí” starts off quietly, but by the end, walls of flange pedals bring the song to a near-abrupt conclusion. “Tal vez” bursts into a loud chorus, while “Espacio” doesn’t let up.
Singer Fernando Martz, who left the group after the album’s release, thankfully sounds nothing like a Seattle clone. He can croon when the music gets soft and growl when it gets loud, all the while sounding like he never had to drink any Clorox.
Without the awkward sequencing of that 12-minute epic, Hombre sintetizador is a great introduction to this Mexican band.