REVIEW: Oblique Quartet – Tlaloc Beat

Dear Reader:

Staff writer Justin Vellucci promised us a review of Oblique Quartet’s debut record,Tlaloc Beat, in his words, “by the end of May, drop-dead latest.” As I am writing this, September is nearly over. In the spirit of fairness to the musicians who labored over the product, we have decided to instead publish Vellucci’s notes to the band’s guitarist Ron Anderson, who he has known for some 10 years. We hope this provides some insight into the record and we apologize for the delay. Justin has been docked a week’s pay and his wrists have been slashed with geckos’ tongues.


Hey, Ron,

Listened with much, much interest to Tlaloc Beat – a total departure from your previous work with PAK. Suppose I shouldn’t sum up the whole band’s rather energetic performance through that prism but it was surprising to hear something so raw and, at times, so RAWKING! And you’re on guitar!! What happened to the four-string jelly-backed attack? That all goes doubly so after the Zornish leanings and sizzled brainiac-isms of Secret Curve, which I still think is a goddamned masterpiece, for what it’s worth.

Loved the tension-and-release on “Octli,” where you can hear some real dynamics, some real punk dynamism and real solid, slamming drumwork from Azael Gonzalez and crazy synths from Marco Fierro. (Where’d you meet those guys?) Probably my favorite track on the disc, but there are a lot of close seconds. Love the staging, too, of “Inframundo,” real moody Spaghetti Western-style stuff that yields to menace. “The Great Temple” still sounds to me like Zeppelin trippin’ on peyote somewhere in the desert, high as kites. Just sayin’. Must’ve been a blast to record. I can only imagine.

Like the instrumental element to the record. Think the songs function well without a vocalist, who I think only would add clutter. There’s enough personality and narrative here where I don’t think that nonsense is necessary. Enough color! Forget the frontman/frontwoman! Too much baggage, anyway, hehe.

Well, anxious to hear the next PAK outing. Loved the Japan tour EP you sent last year, great stuff. Hope to catch Oblique if you make it up to Pittsburgh; don’t know if you’ll be sticking to the border cities. Mexico City, it is.

Again, great debut outing from a talented and eclectic mix of musicians – throttling, powerful and potent stuff!

Speak soon, man. Stay cool.

-JKV – Popdose, Sept. 25, 2015


About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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