In Rotation: Los Amigos Invisibles' 'Not So Commercial'
A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...
When Venezuelan sextet Los Amigos Invisibles was discovered by David Byrne and released its U.S. debut in 1998, there was the danger that the band’s party-friendly sound could become old quickly. Los Amigos’ hyper-sexualized tribute to old-school disco, funk and bossa nova was dazzling, yes, but also gleefully superficial. At the core of the band, however, lies the remarkable songwriting talent of José Luis Pardo, a guitarist obsessed with the melancholy beauty of vintage dance genres.
It is Pardo’s seasoned vision that makes “Not So Commercial,” a 24-minute-long EP of outtakes and song snippets, one of the most oddly poetic Latin recordings of the year. Now based in New York and collaborating with French producer Dimitri From Paris, the band thrives creating jarring collisions: an Afro-Caribbean ode to G-strings turns into sunny lounge, complete with wordless vocalizing. Sixty seconds of sinuous dub give way to a lush fusion of rock-solid funk with retro electronica. Underneath it all, unexpected layers of longing and pathos. Twenty years after getting together, Los Amigos have become one of the few Latin bands that matter.
Los Amigos Invisibles
“Not So Commercial”
— Ernesto Lechner