Manual de Combate: Chilean Experimental Hardcore Band Returns With a New Release (Premiere)
Manual de Combate is an experimental hardcore band from Chile’s capital, Santiago, formed as a bass and drums duo in late 2015 and released their first EP in early 2016. After an intense period of music making, live performances and do-it-yourself activism, underpinned by a strong anarcho-communist political focus, the band began to experiment with […]
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Manual de Combate is an experimental hardcore band from Chile’s capital, Santiago, formed as a bass and drums duo in late 2015 and released their first EP in early 2016.
After an intense period of music making, live performances and do-it-yourself activism, underpinned by a strong anarcho-communist political focus, the band began to experiment with their music, incorporating a brass section such as trumpet and tenor saxophone on later releases. After successful international tours in Europe and South America, the band is ready with their latest record, featuring bass, drums, synthesizer and flute in their line-up.
With more than 160 concerts throughout their career, Manual de Combate are also planning a new European tour for the end of 2023, in addition to various shows in Chile this year.
DIY Conspiracy interviewed Manual de Combate in 2020, shortly after the release of their tenth record Mapas Auténticos del Mundo Imaginario (Authentic Maps of the Imaginary World), and now we’re delighted to have them back on the site with a premiere of their new record, entitled Damos vueltas en el círculo de la noche mientras el fuego nos consume (We spin around the night consumed by the fire).
Beginning with the title track, “Damos vueltas en el círculo de la noche mientras el fuego nos consume”, Manual de Combate come across as a very sophisticated and beautiful post-rock/emo piece, very reminiscent of ’90s cult bands like Tortoise. With the trumpet and flute parts overflowing, the band sounds very experimental, almost avant-garde, without being pretentious or losing their emo edge. With wailing Midwest Emo-style vocals and a lot of spoken word, the lyrics are actually an integral part of the whole listening process with a band like Manual de Combate. Decisively postmodern, the song begins with a solipsistic vision, a dismantling of the mental systems of commodities that alienate us in our daily lives. And with a Dionysian/Nitzschean chorus of dancing around cathartic fires—playing with the very sociological and ethical peripheries that territorialize us into stale plains and epistemological realms of objective morality and rationalism—the band deals with these postmodern themes in a subtle yet poetic way.
The rhythm section is almost unbelievably tight, again the Tortoise parallel, and with the dual male/female slightly tortured vocals and other beautiful instrumental arrangements, this song is simply a masterpiece, sounding exactly as you would imagine a cultural soundtrack to late capitalism to sound.
The second, “Figuras del Desgarramiento,” starts off even more jazzy with fuzzy synths and a catchy bass line that grabs you with its droning majesty and very clever compositional changes with flute and acoustic guitar parts. Again, lots of spoken word, impressively tight drumming and effects that you’d think would belong more to a band like The Sea and the Cake or even Mogwai, but Manuel de Combate definitely do their own thing, incorporating various genres and influences into their music, sometimes unpredictably. The lyrics of this track deal with similar themes as the first one, although perhaps taking a more Eastern philosophical or even Buddhist approach to their poetic wanderings through the vast ontological field…
The third track is an absolutely beautiful interlude called “Interludio (extracto sesión de grabación)” with its calm acoustic guitar parts, suspenseful ambient synth and of course her brilliant flute parts. It definitely takes you somewhere else and far away….
And the last song on the mini-album is also a delightful and melodic instrumental, itself in two parts, “Figuras del Desgarramiento II (Instrumental)”, clearly a contextual continuation of the previous song. Starting funky and psychedelic, it slowly merges with the softer flute and synth parts, creating a beautiful synaesthesia of sounds, a labyrinthine journey into unexplored musical territories, at one point the catchy bass part appears out of nowhere, strong again with a heavy dose of jazzy trumpet goodness. The track calms and bursts unexpectedly, uniquely creating a very interesting suspense-driven sound, especially in the second part of the instrumental. Considering their authentic approach to music writing, composition and lyrics, this little release is a very big step forward for the band, with them reaching newer and newer exotic fields of musical landscapes, perfecting their musicianship and using their many instruments more proficiently than ever!
The album was recorded entirely live at Del Valle Estudios, Buenos Aires by Nahuel Martínez, mixed between December 2022 and February 2023; voices and trumpet-flugelhorn arrangements recorded in Santiago by Angel Marambio, and mastered by Steve Roche (Saetia, Off Minor) at Permanent Hearing Damage in Philadelphia. The cover artwork was done by Bá (Ordinaria Hit & Futuro).