Post punk outfit Sei Still — Sebastián Rojas (organ, synths), Mateo Sánchez Galán (guitar), Jerónimo Martín (drums, percussion) and Lucas Martín (vocals, guitar) — can trace its origins to when the members of the band decided to take a random trip to some desolate woodlands outside of Mexico City to work on a couple of songs. Those sessions were so productive that it led to the quartet starting the band in earnest.
With just a couple of singles under their collective belts — 2017’s “Oto” and 2019’s “Tacticas de Guerrilla Urbana” — the band quickly earned a rapidly growing profile in their native Mexico, sharing stages with Stereolab, Kikagaku Moyo, Institute, and Lorelle Meets The Obsolete. As a result of the growing buzz surrounding them, the Mexican post-punk outfit signed to London-based label Fuzz Club Records, who released their self-titled full-length debut last year. The album quickly solidified a new European fanbase for the Mexican post punk outfit, while selling out its initial vinyl pressing.
The band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album El Refugio is slated for a November 26, 2021 release through Fuzz Club Records, and the album marks a number of major changes for the Mexican post-punk quartet: The band relocated to Berlin, where they wrote and recorded El Refugio. And sonically, the album represents an evolution in the now-Berlin-based band’s sound. Whereas their self-titled debut was heavily indebted to the Krautrock sounds of Can and Neu!, El Refugio reportedly sees the band eschewing the expansive and hypnotic tendencies of their previously released work for a wiry, post-punk inspired sound, that’s still centered around a motorik pulse. Additionally, the songs are shorter and unapologetically to the point, while bristling with tension and anguish.
“The biggest influence on this record was the fact that our personal lives had a radical change and we felt the need to do something different, to dig deeper into the possibilities of what the band was about,” the members of Sei Still explain. “We never wanted to make the same record twice.” Understandably, the move from Mexico to Germany would normally be a massive upheaval culturally, emotionally and personally — but the band managed to move a few weeks before COVID-19 struck across the world and forced shutdowns and lockdowns. And as a result, the material possesses a visceral unease,
More expressionist than psychedelic, the and explains that El Refugio thematically “alludes to childhood, dreams, desire, loneliness, paranoia and hope. A longing for a different reality that breaks the monotony of daily life. It’s more about sensations than something you can describe in words. I think what makes music great is that it has to be experienced so we try to part from a specific mood or emotion, which is something very abstract that people can interpret in their own way.”
Last month, I wrote about “Extraradio,”a brooding, Joy Division-like take on post-punk centered around Lucas Martín’s dry sprechgesang delivery in Spanish, an angular bass line, bursts of wiry, delay pedaled guitar and an insistent motorik pulse. The song to me managed to evoke the profound loneliness of being an Other in a foreign land and surrounded by a culture and language you can’t speak or understand.
El Refugio‘s latest single “Exilo” is a taut and brooding bit of post-punk centered around a relentless motorik pulse, wiry bursts of guitar, glistening synths, mathematically precise electronic drum paired with forceful kick drum paired with Martín’s dry vocal delivery. Reportedly indebted to Spanish New Wave, “Exilo” personally reminds me of endlessly gray, German skies, damp rainy nights in Frankfurt’s Romer and Haupwatche sections with the seemingly permanent costume of foreigner, of man from far away.