Single Review: Chivo Carnada - "Choxxo/Koyote"

Chivo Carnada - Choxxo/Koyote
(2017 Self-Released)

It takes bold, iconic cover art for a project to stand out in an 8-by-5 column of Bandcamp releases. Among the spacey purples and blues that orbit the streaming platform's 'ambient' section, Chivo Carnada's sophomore single does just that. It's a small flash of earth the color of baked clay, disrupting the gloom of the cosmos: an Unidentified Terrestrial Object. Sketches of South American flora and fauna inhabit the sandy square, which seems to imagine what NASA's Pioneer Plaque might have looked like if it were doodled on by a New Yorker cartoonist. 

Like L Bosco, who I reviewed about a month ago, Chivo Carnada is a solo project based in Guadalajara with little social media presence. C.C.'s nom de plume Google-Translates to Goat Bait, a name well-suited to describing his gritty, organic folk meditations. Swaggering acoustic chords lay out an arid terrain on "Choxxo", the A-side of his new digital 7" record, painting a flat landscape for slide guitarist Pedro Snake to sprout prickly pears and succulents that lazily harmonize in the sand. Imagine a more sluggish, twangier version of early Beach Fossils, or their similarly-christened contemporaries Dirty Beaches. The comparison extends to Carnada's lyrics too: poetic and cozily mundane. From what I can gather, "Choxxo" is about taking a late-night trip to the convenience store and deciding what to wear based on the weather. Is it too cold for shorts? Maybe, but C.C. doesn't mind. 

B-side "Koyote" is a cover of a mid-90s cut by Babasonicos -- an Argentinian psych-rock quintet. C.C.'s version of the song is compositionally faithful to its source material, but more baroque on the timbral end of things. Sinister guitar riffs are tempered by chiming plinks of piano that seem like sonic bystanders: tonal pedestrians just passing through. 

Though primarily a folk release, Choxxo/Koyote is ambient in its approach to instrumentation. C.C.'s arrangements lope towards the horizon, unobstructed by a flat landscape. The record is a short journey into the distant beyond, reveling in its desolate vastness -- ideal listening for long walks or poolside sunbathing.