THERE'S A MILD language barrier when interviewing Chilean psych-rock band La Hell Gang via email. And that's okay, because it sometimes results in answers that match the band's murky, disorienting sound.
The trio's new album Thru Me Again, released in July by the Mexican Summer label, was recorded entirely on reel-to-reel eight-track tape, as was La Hell Gang's more extroverted 2009 debut, Just What Is Real. When asked if the method was chosen to elicit any particular feel or sonic quality, drummer Nes—just Nes—replied:
"You can feel the warmer."
To be fair, those five words came at the end of a longer answer about how using tape forces La Hell Gang "to mix while we are recording," an important step in the trio's effort to avoid overthinking and overproducing its music. (Joining Nes in La Hell Gang: guitarist KB and bassist Sarwin. All three members are in their mid- to late-20s.)
But "feeling the warmer" actually gets at the core appeal of Thru Me Again, an eight-song amble through a muggy, reverberant canyon of sound. Earthy and impressively unhurried, the album is a slo-mo blur of burbling bass lines, smeared vocal melodies, and psychedelic guitar meanderings. It positions La Hell Gang as the heavy-lidded yin to the yang of their fellow Chileans in Föllakzoid, who use motorik rhythms as propulsion for their resplendent space-rock.
La Hell Gang "came together by chance," says Nes; they weren't friends, but formed after recognizing some positive musical vibes at shared gigs around Santiago. Just a few years later, they are on their first US tour, an exciting prospect for any young band, though Nes says it's "important to have no expectations."
That'd be a good way to experience Thru Me Again, too. When asked to describe the ideal situation in which one should listen to La Hell Gang's new album, Nes again answered with a sort of serendipitous clarity: "Lazy smoked relax and listening full traveling through their passages... ups and downs."