THE BATTLE OF SANTIAGO play Lula Lounge tonight (Thursday, September 20) and Yonge-Dundas Square Saturday (September 22) as part of the Small World Music Festival. See listing. Rating: NNN
Out of the ashes of early-00s Toronto ambient post-rock bands All I See Is Red and Avenue One has emerged the Battle of Santiago, who also share a love for expansive hazy soundscapes, but with an Afro-Latin twist. It's not as much of a collision of worlds as that might seem. Much of it feels closer to dub reggae or deep house than anything particularly experimental, but it's just far enough outside those traditions to stand out.
The problem with a lot of stoner-friendly down-tempo music is that the grooves are often too static to hold your attention without some help from the bong. In this case, the presence of several talented live percussionists keeps things fluid and engaging, no matter what your mindset. On the other hand, they're pushing their luck a bit, and our attention spans, by ending the album with three versions of the same song, which feels like they're padding out an EP to get closer to an LP length. Would have been smarter to have come up with a couple of new jams instead.
Top track: Opposite Forces