Part of the joy of my recent trip to Venezuela was the chance to exchange CDRs with a good friend down there (thanks again Miggie!) and among the goodies I received were three efforts by Soda Stereo, one of those bands I knew existed but didn’t know anything by or where to start. All were good in their own way but the first one I listened to was Dynamo and knowing nothing about the band I thought this might have been their first effort (hardly — they had already been around a decade by the time it was recorded in 1992).

Because if it had been, then goddamn would it have been The Great Lost Goth/Shoegaze Record of all time. And in a way it still is — one of my fellow All-Music Guide reviewers said this album was the band at its “most eclectic, most ignored, and most experimental”, and I suppose the only immediate comparison point might be the Smashing Pumpkins’ fascinating Adore. But more accurately it suggests how Chapterhouse might have had a more lingering influence than anyone would have credited it for at the time as well. Loops and textured guitars and quite a hell of a lot of the Cure, and more.

Putting this more into a bit of context, as noted it wasn’t a debut effort, and by the time of its release Soda Stereo was in ways the U2 or maybe the Simple Minds (guitarist/singer Gustavo Cerati had a major Jim Kerr jones in the vocals, thankfully not quite the late eighties blowhard, more the mid-eighties scaling up for arenas) of South America, wildly popular on an international level beyond its home country of Argentina. So maybe this was their Achtung Baby but cripes, does it work so much more effectively than that release, no chest-beating anthems, more a kaleidoscope of sound from a band wanting to try more than they had. Based on the earlier efforts I’ve now heard, they had something, but this wasn’t merely dabbling but full on bootstrapping, lovely singing, variety throughout, pushes all my buttons very easily.

I see more clearly now why Chuck Eddy values early nineties Latin American rock as he does. Mind you, maybe he actually hates this.