Space, Love, & Bull Fighting
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 May
Those who say Christian music is uncreative obviously haven't heard the work of Havalina (formerly Havalina Rail Co.). This one-time ska quintet from Long Beach, California, is about as strange as you'll find-nowadays featuring a bizarre blend of jazz, punk, blues, country-western, and surf rock. The band is fronted by lead singers/guitarists Matt Wignall and Starry Dynamo, and backed by bassist Orlando Greenhill and drummer Erick Diego. Caught in between is David Maust, who lends the most distinguishing sounds to the band with his classic keyboards, such as Farfisa organ and Moog synthesizer. The man even plays the Hurdy Gurdy, which is truly a rarity. For their latest recording, Space, Love, & Bull Fighting, Havalina set out to make a Latin album that didn't simply tackle the genre in a conventional way. True to their extremely eclectic form, they decided to blend Latin with spacey rock and their clear love for '80s alternative pop.
If you imagine Elvis Costello mixed with Los Lobos, you're at least in the same solar system as Havalina. The space effects, ambient drums, and rocking guitars all blend into such a sound for the album's opener, "Space and Mexico." Such is the sound of the album, ranging from kitschy lounge Latin ("Carlos") to science fiction sound collages that would make producer Brian Eno proud ("Spaces and Places," "Space, Love, & Bullfighting Suite"). Many of the other songs play like a survey of early-'80s new-wave artists. "Rocket Ship" is reminiscent of early B-52s, "If You'd Like … " is a bit like early U2, and the extremely short "I Feel Nothing" plays like REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know It." This is definitely a band that loves to toy with music, and all genres are its playground. The aforementioned "Space, Love, & Bullfighting Suite" not only features the basic band elements, but also includes bagpipes, harmonica, sci-fi effects, violin, castanets, wood blocks, bird calls, and ocean waves. It just doesn't get stranger than this, folks — but it's often fascinating to listen to.
Just as hard to peg as the sound is the meaning behind all of