The name, El Haru Kuroi, is a cultural mash-up.It's a mix of grammatically incorrect Japanese and Spanish. They wanted to be called “Black Spring” in Japanese (It should be Kuroi Haru) and the “El” was added when people said they should have a Spanish name to their band because the band's lyrics were mostly in Spanish. Their latest release, Canta Gallo, is nothing short of brilliant. The influences that make El Haru Kuroi are not hard to pinpoint, yet put together they way they do makes for a sound that is all their own. The influence of Brazil’s Tropicalia movement weighs heavy on them, yet much like those artists involved in that movement, El Haru Kuroi adapted the music they grew up on and took the essence. The result is a haunting mixture of Bossa Nova and Boleros mixed with urgency of post-punk groups like Gang Of Four and Fugazi.
Singer/Guitarist Eddika Organista is the daughter of a Mexican musician who played in many Tropical groups. Most of the music Eddika’s father enjoyed was in Spanish, but he was also a fan of Brazilian music, Bossa Nova in particular. The sound of the Brazilian artists singing in Portuguese resonated strongly with a young Eddika, who was already fluent in both Spanish and English and playing guitar by age eleven. She found herself mimicking the sound of Brazilian singers when she sang. This led her to study Portuguese in school. She started to discover other Brazilian artists that went beyond the Bossa Nova singers that her father favored. At the age of seventeen, she is discovered the Tropicalia movement that started in Brazil in the late 60’s and in particular, her world was blown wide open by the discovery of Caetano Veloso. The influence of Veloso’s work on Eddika’s songwriting and musicianship is undeniable, but it goes beyond imitation. She manages to capture the soul of Caetano rather than his sound, the mixture of beauty and darkness that permeates her songs whether she is writing in English, Spanish or Portuguese.Organista's ability to sing in three languages creates options for the group. Language becomes part of the music, with each language chosen for what works best in the song. The rhythm section of Dominic Rodriguez and Michael Ibarra adapt to the whims of Organista’s imagination. Rodriguez imaginative percussive style works with Organista’s gritty yet breezy guitar tone. Ibarra hold them all together with a playing that resembles Charles Mingus when he played support rather than lead. It was an underrated talent of Mingus and one that Ibarra shares with him. Lyrically, Organista’s metaphoric lyrics recall the beauty and pain of Caetano Veloso and Agustin Lara writing without imitation. Each song is pure heartbreak blues, even when decorated in sweet melodies.
Most bands from Los Angeles are in cultural renewal state. From trying to sound like a 60's R&B artist, a 70's Colombian band or reviving the L.A.'s Paisley Underground sound (Which in itself, was a revival of the 60's L.A. psyche scene back in the 80's) It's refreshing to hear a band like El Haru Kuroi that sounds like no one else is doing in Los Angeles. The musical vocabulary the band shares, post-punk, Bossa Nova, Delta Blues, Rocksteady Reggae, Cumbia, Boleros, and Eastside oldies, go beyond hipster categorizations. El Haru Kuroi sounds like El Haru Kuroi.
El Haru Kuroi's Canta Gallo will be available at Amoeba Hollywood on 3/26/13