There are many artists who have good intentions and interesting ideas but aren't quite able to pull things together creatively; they come out with albums that offer some intrigue but are erratic and wildly inconsistent. But on Spider Monkey, Angel Garcia and Greg Hernandez -- who comprise the Los Angeles-based Mezklah -- offer an album that is experimental and full of intrigue but is still fairly accessible. Stylistically, this bilingual Mexican duo is not easy to pin down. Some have described Spider Monkey as "Latin alternative," and their eclectic work draws on everything from rock, reggae, funk, soul, hip-hop, and electronica (including jungle/drum'n'bass and trip-hop) to cumbia, salsa, and Mexican folk. But Mezklah don't sound confused or unfocused -- quite the contrary. The Southern Californians pull all their influences together in a very logical and coherent fashion -- and even if this 2005 release is somewhat self-indulgent at times, it isn't self-indulgent in an elitist, hipper-than-thou, exclusionary way. For all their experimentation, Garcia and Hernandez clearly want to communicate and tell a story. They want listeners to comprehend what they're doing -- and for those who are broad-minded and are open to hearing a wide variety of influences, comprehending Spider Monkey shouldn't be a problem. Plenty of freshness is to be found on this very promising CD.
Spider Monkey Review
by Alex Henderson