Titán has always played the long game. Before taking an almost decade-long hiatus, the seminal Mexican electroclash band was active for 13 years that only saw three album releases and limited touring. This is a band that has only ever fed its audience in small doses, perhaps because of its individual members’ intense personal schedules and solo projects, or simply because they are masters of delayed gratification. Now, after 11 long years of hunger, Titán are finally releasing new music in the form of Dama, a cheeky, self-aware reflection on their place in music history.
Lead singles “Dama Fina” and “El Rey del Swing” are some of the strongest tracks on Dama because they feel most familiar to the grimy musical signature Titán has come to epitomize. By far, the album’s most enjoyable moments are the ones where our heroes feature most prominently. Julian Lede still wails – nonstop touring as Silverio has kept him limber – Jay de la Cueva is still murdering bass lines and dramatic monologues, and Emilio Acevedo’s (aka Sonido Lasser) beats should still be the envy of every young producer.
That aforementioned signature sound rears its head again on tracks like “Apache” and “Soldado,” which are both chaotic and masterfully layered. However, there are moments where “sounding like Titán” isn’t enough to keep a song afloat, as is the case with “Tchaikovski.” The track drones on a bit too long, muddling the ironic juxtaposition of chanting the classical composer’s name over an industrial beat. Keeping in the classical references, closing track “Himno” is a twisted rework of Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy.” Sounding like they took an eighth of mushrooms and a blowtorch to the sonic masterpiece, “Himno” manages to capture the band’s knack for cerebral references as well as the middle-finger quality of their music.
Five of the album’s twelve tracks include guest features, which may surprise some, but is logical considering the exceedingly collaborative nature of the band’s solo offshoots. Though some fascinating if unexpected names appear on Dama, including Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama on “Hell.A,” and legendary synth pioneer Gary Numan on “Dark Rain,” these tracks tend to sound more like cuts from their guests’ albums than major highlights off this hotly anticipated release. Still, the presence of these iconic guests speaks volumes to Titán’s place and reach within the music world, past, and present.
The most successful of all the collaborations comes with the appearance of Spain’s El Columpio Asesino on “Dama Negra.” Where at first you may doubt the compatibility of these two distinct musical palates, the moment Cristina Martínez’s breathy voice slides in on the beat, all fears are put to rest and you are instead treated to a perreo-friendly wall of sound.
Yes, we’ve missed Titán, but they have chosen to opt out of the nostalgia trip and have instead delivered a solid new chapter in their career. Dama is a tricky and mysterious production, building on the reputation and hype of one of Mexico’s most influential electronic acts, while still showcasing new facets of their creative psyche. On the one hand, if you’re a long time Titán fan, there is plenty here to keep you satisfied, and if you’re a newcomer you’ll find plenty of unusual material to pique your interest while still getting a good sense of what the band sounded like in their heyday. Either way, the beauty of Titán is that separately or together, they are legends who know their talent and don’t take it for granted. Dama packs the jams and experiments, so giving it a good listen and a few head bangs is definitely a smart use of your time.