Peru isn’t the first place I’d reference when thinking of post-punk, as the tag instead conjures the murky gothicisms of England’s industrial wastelands and far icier terrain. However, Lima’s Reducidos do exactly that but, in fitting with their perennially warmer clime, do so with a far more fiery, aggressive and immediate vision.
Reducidos stay but inches from the burning heart of hardcore punk’s fire, their fury beckoning the scorched rather than the frozen. The band just released Represíon // Opresíon and it’s yet to leave daily play. Over the course of the five song EP, they manage to incorporate bits of both the expected and the surprising. Though clearly there’s more at play than a revved up take on the Joy Division playbook, it’s at least a slice of the Reducidos pie chart.
Angular and washy guitar, slithering upfront bass, and the propulsive pounding of the drums all check the expected boxes but it’s ultimately the vocals that separate this. Veering away from the diminishing returns we’ve gotten from generations aping Ian Curtis, the gruff and aggressive bark would work just as easily tacked onto scattershot hardcore or driving street punk. Singer José Canseco’s unique and singular take is what lands the band in rarified air, as they manage to marry the fury of hardcore’s revolutionary spirit to post-punk’s air of a generation doomed.
“Odiado” is a killer opening gambit that artfully lays the template for the EP with a forceful take on nihilistic, bleak punk. If I were attempting to lure in the old heads, I’d likely highlight their shared DNA with Titans of the past, as it’s not leagues away from The Wipers, Wire, or Killing Joke. As half of Reducidos also serve time in the essential Perra Vida, their sense of the current recalls Arctic Flowers, The Estranged, No Problem, or the more recent Red Dons material. Managing to sidestep the clinical coldness of similar sounds, the result is far more rousing and intense.
Lyrically, it’s a hyper literate takedown of the xenophobia directed at immigrants both stateside and in the ongoing immigration into Peru from neighboring Venezuela. For a subgenre that’s so typically bound by stylistic parameters, the normal depression odes have been usurped by molotov cocktail hurling anthems of political unrest. It’s a jarring and instantly rewarding listen.
The second track, “La Bestia,” wisely sticks to their echoey formula, throwing in a halftime mid-section that’s as two-step hXc as it is Gang of Four style dance punk. Again, the true rewards are found in the wordplay, as the translated, clipped stanzas present like desperate and pissed slam poetry couplets, stark but complex in their simplicity. In what’s essentially a two minute blast, we’re given a full tour of the tenacity and ferocity of Lima’s lower class, downtrodden but dangerous.
“El Sistema” opens with heavy and crisp bass, emitting Unknown Pleasures vibes. It matches a slick, early '80s dub-tone over the backbone of straight-up hardcore punk. There’s emphasis on single note but inventive leads and gets propulsive precisely when you’d expect the opposite, their bottomless duffle of exciting rhythms and catchy ear worms allows them to venture off instead of lay back. Written in the voice of capitalism itself, the tone is self-referential and damning.
“Subordinates” is, seemingly, an exploration of the self-flagellation and destructive tendencies inherent in belief. Picking apart the dogma and distasteful adherence to capitalist structures, it’s yet another lyrical high point. Musically, it’s a direct and powerful banger, albeit one heavily draped in murk and gauzy riffage. The built in religiosity of Peruvian culture runs deeply through the culture, both in the intentional and subconscious. The fear and confusion of coexistence with this and its’ implications on the revolutionary spirit is, to me at least, thematically new. When hit with the self-doubt of “No Se Quien Soy," I can’t help but think Reducidos know exactly who they are. The inadvertent false flag of a title certainly isn’t referencing their taut and carefully calculated attack. If all of this exploration of self still results in failing to know the proverbial “yo," I’d happily welcome this mysterious, post-punk stranger past my threshold.
At 5 plus minutes, closer “Pinto De Negro” is relative epic by their standards and one that takes a daring detour into noisier terrain. Beginning with a cavernous and distant rhythmic beat, it soon segues into an almost atonal discordance. The pendulum continually swings between a direct, empowered rage to a melancholic distance with dizzying success. In their most “post” embracing lyricisms, we’re left to contemplate what’s basically an ode to pain, confusion, and solitude.
On the Peru end, Represíon // Opresíon was recorded by Giovanni Lama with assistance by Gonzalo Porturas in Lima. The mixing and mastering was handled stateside by Will Killingsworth at the forever busy Dead Air Studios