Once upon a time there was a person who had become disaffected with the blues, and so forged a new genre out of its scales — it was called rock n roll. In the years to come, the English and American hit-makers would push this genre into an array of sub-sets, from glam rock, to punk rock, to prog rock; it became a force of many facets. Meanwhile, over in Germany people had got fed up with happy-clappy Schlager, and so developed their own style, coined by British racists as Krautrock. And so it went on. Rockin’ was diverse, rockin’ was fashionable, rockin’ was in.
But alas, the malcontents of the world — who primarily lived in cold places — later decided that they’d had enough of rock’s many forms; its time was up. In Canada, in Iceland, in Scotland, the last hurrah of a genre that had sated the masses for so long came in the form of bone-shaking timbres and other-worldly instrumentation — rock was dead, and post-rock leapt from its ashes.
It is strange to think, then, that in a small border town between Mexico and California the legacy left by the Germans, the Scots, the Canadians and Icelanders lives on. Mint Field hail from Tijuana, a city that is most likely known from Herb Alpert‘s appropriation of its name in the early sixties in order to garner a more authentic feel to his wannabe mariachi jazz act.
Having met in high school, Estrella Sanchez, a professional bowler at the time, and Amor Amezcua bonded over a love of shoegaze. The pair, along with their unnamed but equally hairy and talented bassist, have since toured extensively in the U.S. and Mexico, playing Coachella and SXSW, as well as alongside the likes of Iceage and Hello Seahorse. The group released their debut album Pasar De Las Luces on February the 23rd with Innovative Leisure Records, a small label based in L.A., and are now touring across Europe and America.
It must have been baffling for the duo to have landed in England from Mexico during a storm ominously known as ‘The Beast’, and yet as they took to the stage, Mint Field looked as unassuming and sedate as one might expect of a shoegaze/post-rock outfit. Sanchez announces the band, “We’re Mint Field from Tijuana, Mexico”, in turn playing a niche and most likely unrealised homage to Scottish mind-numbing outfit Mogwai. They begin with ‘Boötes Void’ — the umlaut surely an intentional nod to Krautrock spellings — that is tantalising in its cyclicality, with Sanchez’s phaser and Amezcua’s motorik-esque snare rolls teasing us with a potential change in tack. When it comes three minutes later, it’s a harsh breakdown full of distortion and irregularity that lasts a mere few bars before we’re thrown back into the whirlwind.
They dip their toes into sectarian pools of rock music, coming out dripping with a staggering mix of influence and innovation. From pulsing back-beats on ‘Quiero Otoño De Nuevo’, evocative of the “half man, half machine” Jackie Liebezeit, to ephemeral Jónsi-like vocals where one need not know the language to understand the meaning on ‘Nada Es Estático Y Evoluciona’ — Mint Field make a noise that’d warm the bones of any sleeping Scot. Finishing with ‘Cuidad Satélite’, a track that is as spellbinding as it is loud, it’s hard to imagine Sanchez and Amezcua doing anything else in their time; the duo are so comfortable and natural in the way that they craft noise and manage dynamics, it’s as if they were always meant to create post-rock, and as Sanchez toyed with the feedback of her guitar, and Amezcua beat her cymbals with timpani sticks, Mint Field appeared almost cosy in the brick cavern of The Eagle Inn.