I’ve been writing so few album reviews of late that I’m feeling out of practice. I’m sure I used to find it easy coming up with an opening paragraph that, on a good day, might scale the heady heights of being mildly amusing AND serve as some sort of intro for the record I’d be telling you about. I think that’s probably not going to happen today as I can’t stop thinking about the Krankies and working that into some relevant preamble is a bit beyond me. So, let’s pretend this didn’t happen and get on with our business for the day: Ambos Mundos by Cachemira.
It’s always good to have some background on the band, isn’t it? Cachemira hail from sunny Barcelona and this is their second coming, so to speak. The initial line-up was formed in 2015, released an album in 2017, and then went on an indefinite hiatus in 2018. Luckily for us, they didn’t let it lie as guitarist Gastón Lainé and drummer Alejandro Carmona Blanco recruited bassist and singer Claudia González Diaz and unleashed Cachemira 2.0 upon the world. This is the revamped line-up’s first record and I think you can always take it as a promising sign when an essentially new band get picked up by a label as well respected as Heavy Psych Sounds.
I always like to do some research whenever I do an album review, and by research, I generally mean that I’ll spend about 20 seconds typing any foreign words into Google Translate. The fruit of my labours? That Cachemira is Spanish for cashmere (itself a weird anglicisation of Kashmir) and that Ambos Mundos means ‘both worlds’. Now, if you were being very literal, you’d be forgiven for thinking that might be some sort of Led Zeppelin reference, and as for both worlds… Perhaps something to do with either Hannah Montana or Van Hagar? Anyway, While I’d say that Cachemira are definitely on something of a retro trip, they don’t so much bring to mind Led Zep as an intriguing mash-up of early ‘70s FM rock melded to some of the freakier, acid-fried stuff coming out of the underground at a similar time. A lazy comparison: imagine what Blues Pills would sound like if they listened to a lot of the MC5.
You’d hope that a band of this ilk are going to provide you with plenty of snuggly analogue fuzz and you won’t be disappointed. The production is just right – warm and woolly but with enough bite to still be satisfying. The bass is nice and high in the mix (always a plus) and Diaz has a really good voice. There are additional guitar tracks that have been liberally added in the studio throughout, but it never detracts from the natural, jam-based feel that Cachemira lock into throughout.
simply defies you not to bang your head and reach for your imaginary air guitar…
Opening track Don’t Look Back (To The Fire) is a good example of what to expect and gets extra marks for the gratuitous use of brackets in the song title. It opens as a fairly generic, albeit well-played, ‘70s rock radio standard with some extra wah pedal for interest. After a verse and chorus or two, the band step things up and launch into an instrumental jam that really makes you sit up and take notice. It’s a formula that’s repeated pretty much across the entire record, with radio-friendly rock fare upfront and an extended jam to follow.
That might sound like it could get tired very quickly, but Ambos Mundos is varied and played with enough energy to stay interesting. The song sections are decent, but Cachemira really shine on the instrumental jams, and these become more prevalent as the record progresses. The band also manages to hit the tricky balance between letting the instruments breathe and keeping things concise – I often find that instrumentals can meander and lose my interest, but the music on Ambos Mundos is focused throughout.
There are a number of real highlights. Third track Future’s Sight is, for me, the best on the album. With a simple but effective bass motif that runs through the track, the band use it as the basis for what could be a cool three-minute rock song and turn it into an epic and thoroughly satisfying jam. The instrumental section on the following track Dirty Roads is another cracker that simply defies you not to bang your head and reach for your imaginary air guitar as Cachemira build up a mighty head of steam. I also really enjoyed the album-closing title track where the band really stretch out into an expansive jam, running from a lengthy trance-inducing section to a decidedly flamenco flavoured bit, to a pleasingly rocky finish.
Truth be told, I wasn’t totally sold on Ambos Mundos the first few times I listened to it, but it’s really grown on me. If you fancy some ‘70s flavoured rock featuring some sweet jams then you should give Cachemira a listen.
Scribed by: Liam Blanc