Malheur – Ausiliatrice

Portada AusiliatriceManuel Montenegro (drums)
Juan Miguel Martín (bass)
Juan G. Acosta (guitar)

Las muñecas cabronas del espacio
Art pompier
Jesucristo internacional
Santalla
Colossus
Giant stress
Tesalónica club
Cocaine chic

Sputnik Recording, Sevilla 18-19 October 2014
Knockturne Records KTR013

Malheur are a trio from Sevilla with a strong line in catchy, often swinging, clever tunes. On “Ausiliatrice” they manage to make a rich variety of moods and melodies into a consistent whole. It’s actually been a few months since I first listened to this album and I’d forgotten how good – and how much fun – it is. I know that on first listen it moved me to write the following instant ‘mini-review’ on Facebook:

Okay, a fuller review will no doubt follow in time but for now, if aJN did an ‘Album of the Week’ feature, this would be it for this week.
“Ausiliatrice” by guitar trio Malheur on Knockturne Records
It’s fun, it’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s a little bit dirty.
Packing a lot into its 28 minutes, Ausiliatrice veers from upbeat twang to proggy space-rock and even includes a cheeky nod to Coltrane. What’s more, it manages that tricky balancing act: treading the fine line between accessible and edgily innovative.
Now, I’m off to listen to it again…

Las muñecas cabronas del espacio starts things off with an almost martial drum riff; swiftly followed by a fluid and memorable guitar line and funky bass that set the scene – I dare you not to tap your foot to this. Nice solo too; reminds a little of the Grateful Dead in a way; which is no bad thing at all. Art pompier puts us into a more reflective and mellow mood which slowly increases in density. Jesucristo internacional features some great stretched and twisted lines and a piercing bell-like guitar tone. Nice bluesy bass and sensitive drumming too. Santalla is the track that I heard first and led me to search out the rest of the disc; effects-drenched chords, dynamic percussion that pushes and pulls at the time, and a busy and nuanced bassline. Colossus makes much of its ascending melody, coming across as a very chilled out kind of prog-jazz and leading nicely into Giant stress which is a playfully warped (and very up-tempo) take on ‘Trane’s Giant Steps. Tesalónica club is a brain-melting space-fusion interlude before we finish on the lush Cocaine chic which is mellow and groovy and somehow in-your-face at the same time.

Overall, there’s something just very cheeky and devil-may-care about this disc. I think underneath there’s a lot of carefully crafted brilliance, but that’s overlaid with a surface sense of swaggering charm that belies the hard work, making it sound utterly effortless.

“Ausiliatrice” is available for download via Bandcamp and in good old-fashioned physical CD format from Knockturne Records.