It’s not easy being an artist ahead of your time. The confused looks, shocked reactions and cruel indifference is a lot to bear, even with the vague promise that somewhere down the line, maybe long after you’re gone, history will eventually vindicate your efforts. For a band called Dios, it seems that time has finally come.
Formed in Buenos Aires in the mid-90s, Dios found themselves caught between opposing national currents of sophisticated pop and a brash underground counterculture scene, and weren’t particularly interested in either. Dios featured nothing more than a drum set, a bass guitar and a singer who half-shouted poetic reflections on life in el gran puerto, and aside from a few passionate advocates, nobody really got it. They weren’t punk rock, they weren’t reggae and they weren’t really copying anybody. And as these things go, they played a few shows, recorded one album and split up.
Escuchar a Dios is a new documentary that brings together never-before-seen VHS footage to explore of the legacy of a band that is considered by contemporary Argentine journalists and musicians to have been one of the most authentic expressions of the cynical zeitgeist of mid-90s Buenos Aires. The feature was directed by Mariano Baez, who stumbled upon Dios after moving to Buenos Aires from the provincial capital of Santa Fe in the early 2000s. After tracking down the band’s original members, who ended up being spread out across two continents, Baez amassed original interviews and nearly-forgotten archival footage of the band–including the only surviving recording their concerts–to create Escuchar a Dios.
The doc’s extended trailer features interviews with band members, fans and critics who reflect on the unusual chemistry and freedom shared by the trio of Pedro Amodio, Tomás Nochteff and Javier Aldana. The crude, haphazard lo-fi aesthetic of the film seems to be an appropriate stylistic accompaniment to the band’s unapologetically raw personal style, which is evident in footage of both rehearsal sessions and concerts.
Whether or not this is your type of music, Escuchar a Dios seems, at its core, to be a fascinating reflection on the spirit of a city at a time when, in the midst of neo-liberal eonomic upheaval and glimmering television spectacle, life didn’t seem to have any deeper meaning.