Refinery row 

From the day Búho got started, the band members wanted to document everything: videos of rehearsals and live shows, audio cuts, and graphic projects galore. In deciding to be a noise-rock project with two guitarists, one drummer, an assortment of effects pedals, and no bassist, they found themselves going down a creative road less traveled, and they wanted souvenirs from the trip.

Búho’s metamorphic brand of heavy, sprawling noise practically demands to be archived at every turn, anyway. When asked about his band’s ever-evolving songs, guitarist Brad Angotti cites the poet Octavio Paz who often republished his “finished” works. “People would ask him, ‘Why did you do that?’ and he’d say, ‘Because it changes with me,’ ” Angotti said.

Take Búho’s epic “Pink Locust,” as an example. The demo version opens with spacey guitar ambience soaring over machine-gun drums while a discordant guitar melody trudges through it all. It’s organized chaos, a meeting point between Jeff Beck and The Dismemberment Plan. As the madness subsides, Búho’s guitarists fall into lockstep, playing swooping but precise melodies reminiscent of Minus the Bear’s Dave Knudson. Named for a William Carlos Williams poem about the pink locust’s peculiar place in nature, neither coveted like the rose nor disdained like poison ivy but enduring as other plants wither, the song defines the band to its members. Angotti appreciates the tree’s tenacity. “I may not be the best that you’re ever going to hear, but who is going to deny me my place?” he said. “I feel like that musically. I may not make it to `great success`, but I’m here and I’m doing it. Who’s going to deny me that?”

“‘Pink Locust’ is the first song we all really wrote,” said drummer Mauricio Gudino. “It was our introduction to ourselves.” And yet, Búho recently put “Pink Locust” under the paring knife. “It was too long,” guitarist Art Romo said. Now the track is a fraction of its original length.

This is typical of the band’s creative process. Like some jam bands, the music Búho records is merely a sketch. When performance time arrives, there’s no telling what will have changed about the song. Angotti often writes lyrics long after the instrumentals have been recorded and changes the words each show. Gudino admits he treasures having “100-percent control” over how he plays in the band. If he wants to take a song off the rails, he does, and both guitarists follow him. “What’s the point of sticking to something you can’t even remake?” he asked.

Though the songs aren’t always easily recognizable (no hollering along with the chorus), Búho has some musical totems. Its ambitious arrangements traffic in brooding repetition and murky walls of sound, with technical rhythms and circular melodies piercing through a general feeling of impending doom. Delicate moments are fleeting, and the band prefers to play loud, reveling in their intensity. “We literally blew people away,” Gudino said of a recent performance. He pantomimed people in a panic hearing Búho for the first time, covering their ears and walking outside. Perhaps that just winnows the chaff from the true fans; the ones who stay through their first Búho show are glad to have done so, even if the only way they may hear the same song again is via a video of the performance. “We’re not a catchy band,” Romo said. “But we try not to alienate anyone.” •

8pm Sat, Oct 16
Saluté International Bar
1801 N St Mary’s
(210) 732-5307



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