Las Malas Amistades - ‘the bad friends’ - formed in 1994, when several arts students in Bogota, Colombia, began meeting up to play music together (though none of them were musicians). From the start their method has been to make up songs there at the session, sometimes whilst their four-track is already running, moving straight on when something is caught on the tape. The music is spontaneous, intimate, spare. It’s lovely, heartfelt, full of poppy wit and beauty, about to fall apart.
There are six members at present. They use a hulking charity-shop synth and a Casiotone, electronic drums, an acoustic guitar and a cuatro, various small percussion gadgets. Sometimes songs are acoustic, sometimes electronic, usually mixed.
Las Malas Amistades are heirs to the anthropophagism of the Tropicalia movement, gobbling the brains of a scrumptious range of musical intelligence. The heroes and traditions of Colombian music: Los Carrangueros, Noel Petro, Andres Landero, Juancho Polo Valencia, cumbia vieja and Discos Fuentes. Also The Residents, Moondog, Sun Ra, Aksak Maboul, Morricone, Arthur Russell, Serge Gainsbourg, Paco Ibanez, The Slits, Tom Ze. Sixties and seventies crooners like Jose Jose, Raphael, Sandro, Jeanette, Leonardo Favio.
Las Malas Amistades have released two records. The first, La Musica De Las Malas Amistades, compiled songs from the first five or six years of the band. The second, Jardin Interior, was recorded in Bogota in March 2005, and originally released on the New York label Psych-O-Path: Vice magazine said, ‘It’s kind of like if the Young Marble Giants sang in Spanish and didn’t fully know how to play. It’s pretty great, in other words.’ Rolling Stone didn’t know if it was good or bad: ‘you decide’, it advised.
The next Las Malas Amistades album — Patio Bonita — will be released on Honest Jon’s in the Spring of 2007.