Not since Russian electronica wunderkind, Gabriel Prokofiev (grandson of classical composer Sergei Prokofiev), had I heard an artist successfully mix classical music, jazz, and folk with electronica on the same album, much less the same song. Prokofiev makes it work, and so does Peruvian artist Lobo Gris. In fact, that’s what his debut album, 10:24, is all about: finding that complex intersection between popular and classical music while taking you on a wild, emotional ride.
At first listen, you realize 10:24 plays more like an original soundtrack than a cohesive album, which is what makes it difficult to describe in the first place. The first track, “Howl No.1,” opens with a breakbeat that momentarily falls to the background to feature a cello and a violin playing dark and dangerous tonalities. Surprisingly, that song has no formal ending. It stops abruptly to pave the way for the album’s soothing first single, “Vendaval,” a straight-up folk song with a climactic ending that brings back those strings.
This see-saw of emotions and sounds happens on different levels throughout the album’s whopping 21 tracks. For every experimental song like “Acantilado,” “Howl No.2,” and “Eenheld,” you get a dreampop track like “Dual,” which features singer Carolina Cruz. But then you also have industrial songs like “Loup,” accompanied by Jorge González from Los Prisioneros, and “Thunderbeat.” They’re both unabashed bangers created to wake you up from whatever dream you were having.
That the album has that cinematic quality may or may not be an accident. Lobo Gris is the alias of Gustavo de la Torre, filmmaker and director of Pasaje 18, the Lima-based production company responsible for Café Tacvba’s “Olita de Altamar” music video, among others.
Lobo Gris is one of those projects that come once in a blue moon to shake up old ideas you never knew you had about certain genres. For me, 10:24 is one of those records that is as risky for the artist as it is rewarding for the listener. It forces you to pay close attention, and then it lets you revel in the nuances.