El Templo del Dinero - s/t. 1999 Mexico

As I've written about in the past, Smogless was a Mexican label in the late 90s something akin to the Kosmische Kouriers or Prescription Drug (UK), with a blend of bands celebrating the psychedelic underground. El Templo del Dinero was but one of these ensembles, likely collected for this recording rather than as a touring concern. The participants are an unusual lot for a recording such as this. Guitarist Victor Mendez had played in a couple of oddball bands from the early 90s - one was the unhinged Zeuhl group Vector Escoplo and the other was the arty Subsuelo. Neither very good to be honest. Drummer Victor Baldovinos comes from the decidedly symphonic group Iconoclasta. Newcomer bassist Alfredo Landa fills out the trio.

Based on this lineup, one wouldn't normally expect an homage to early Guru Guru and Sensations Fix, but more or less that's what we're dealing with here. Instrumental psychedelic space rock is the order of the day. The sound is raw and very much a product of the deep underground. El Templo del Dinero was hardly alone doing this kind of music in Mexico at this time, and one will hear similarities to Humus, Loch Ness, and Frolic Froth. The guitars are wonderfully compressed and super fuzzed out, and the rhythm section moves around constantly. Sometimes in sync, sometimes not - which is part of the allure. But it's definitely a competent work by experienced musicians. I've seen references to this being a jazz fusion type album, but I cannot hear it myself. No more than Guru Guru's UFO being considered such. Another reference would be the obscure Chicago based band Matter.

El Templo del Dinero is another one of those CDs I bought real time, enjoyed, and filed. Here we are 19 years later on a revisit, and I had very little music memory of it - only that it was in the Humus vein. I can understand this album being a bit too raw for some, but it's not in the wear-you-out genre like the Japanese groups such as Acid Mothers Temple can be. I enjoyed it myself, and hopefully will hear it again sooner than 19 years. Hopefully I can still hear at all by then....

Personal collection
CD: 1999 Smogless

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