I’ll say it… the new Calle 13 album is a masterpiece. After I shrugged off my shallow DJ way of initially skimming through albums, suddenly the tracks kept jumping out one after another and then something clicked as usually happens with the best albums. I think it’s the first time I’ve bought an entire album on i-Tunes (well they weren’t selling it direct as far as I could work out and there didn’t seem to be any other more acceptable outlets) but the fact that they are self releasing it on their own label certainly encouraged my purchase.
In promotional terms it was a brave decision to lead with the title track ‘Multi-Viral’ that seemed such a jarring departure on first listen and certainly challenging for their mainstream fans but in keeping with their increasingly anti-establishment stance. Indeed the track does makes much more sense within the context of the album and throughout main producer Visitante has effortlessly melded the rock elements they’d been flirting with on the previous two albums with a tinge of electronic sounds and has created a maturer sound. After 4 superbly crafted albums full of killer tracks ‘Multi-Viral’, despite the band’s usual stylistic changes throughout, could be the first that as a whole is a more cohesive as an album.
What a joy to see their perfect evolution over 5 albums and 10 years – the slow transformation from humourous reggaeton rebels to leading lights of some kind of Hip Hop form of Nueva Cancion now so complete it’s hard to believe it wasn’t intentional in the first place. Was it the Peyoti in the hills of Mexico? The digestion of literature from the likes of Eduardo Galeano (who features on the intro to the new album) or the inevitable consequence of growing up in the US colony of Puerto Rico I suspect all three and much more.
What matters now is that here is a band who have mainstream appeal and can use the tools of major labels clever marketing campaigns and glossy videos to brilliant effect I’m not saying they don’t have any kind of industry apparatus behind them in some way (Infact I don’t know) but they appear to be shedding every attachment to the corporate structure that they artfully manoeuvred themselves through to reach this artistic peak.