Premiere: Los Esplifs – ‘Perro Rabioso’: Tucson psych-cumbia outfit go roamin’ for a (rabid) hot dog

Los Esplifs, photographed by Will Kubley

DO YOU have a particular penchant for those liminal musical zones, the subduction zones where musical tectonic plates bend and upheave and buckle and melt into one another? Particularly, perhaps, when you’re left with a wide grin and a begged question: just how did they get there, exactly?

You know the sort of thing I mean. Olivia Tremor Control. Incredible String Band. Os Mutantes. Marrying musics with aplomb and a sense of fun and deadly conceptual seriousness all at once, sending some concoction forth unto our ears.

Your kinda bag? How about some psych cumbia … maybe that should be cumbia psych. This one might particularly appeal to Os Mutantes fans, actually; for Tucson’s Los Esplifs now walk among us, and en route to their debut album, Estraik Back, which’ll be out April 20th, to tantalise you through their theatrical, polyrhythmic barrio door, they’re unveiling the video for “Perro Rabioso” (‘rabid dog’) exclusively with Backseat Mafia this very morn.

Los Esplifs come recommended by none other than Osees guiding light John Dwyer; and let’s be frank, there’s someone who knows a thing or two about music as it should be musicked.

The band’s various members have been active in the Latinx scene a while: leader Saul Millan has performed with The Mexican Institute of Sound, Calexico and Orkesta Mendoza during the past seven years; while his spliffy musical sparring partner Caleb Michel has been a member of the Afro Cuban Allstars since age 19.

Late in 2018, Michel and Millan joined forces and shared their unique view of living in America through the music that connects them and recorded a self-titled EP, mixin’ it up gloriously in Tepoztlan, Mexico and featuring an all-star band drawn from the Arizonan scene.

And so it unfolded; Osees’ encouragement, a track placement on Netflix’ Desenfrenadas series; they had the wheels in motion.

All of which leads to us to the shaggy (rabid) dog road trip of a video they’re showin’ out today, out in the desert, hungry and with only one thing to satisfy them – as we’ll find out, below.

Michel and Millan say: “We’re from Tucson, Arizona. Our new song ‘Perro Rabioso’ is our third single from the LP.

“The video features Mexican punk rockers Los Diabolicos in their hometown of Hermosillo. It follows Uli and Chocomomo (of Los Diabolicos) on a quest to find a Sonoran hot dog, a Sonoran desert delicacy.”

And how did the song come about? “It was 2019 and we were at this bar in Phoenix where we would always hang; a typical pre-pandemic week night.

“In the patio we are intrigued by a dog that was brought in. Everyone around it was petting, holding, and even kissing its mouth, and we began to imagine all the horrible things that this dog could’ve been doing before being adored.

“In between laughs we came to the realization that we were a lot like this dog.”

The album takes traditional cumbia, modern art-psychedelia, dark humour and contemporary narrative; blends it all up for a very now Latinx trip; slap it on, get grooving in your yardz.

Los Esplifs’ Estraik Back will be released on April 20th; you can pre-order your copy soon over at their Bandcamp page.

Connect with Los Esplifs on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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