REVIEW: BORRACHO – RIFFOGRAPHY (2017)

One of the finest bands you’ve never heard of release a compilation of hard to find stuff

Late last year we reviewed on these pages, the third album from Borracho. It’s fair to say we considered “Atacama” to be a triumph. Indeed, we proclaimed that: “This is one of those records that will get called “stoner” by people who have no idea what that epithet actually means. Instead, “Atacama” is a mighty and magnificent slab of scuzzy, fuzzy, bluesy hard rock.”

Words we stand by 12 months on, but ones that have been thrown into sharper focus by the emergence of “Riffography”.

By way of explanation, in addition to their three records, Borracho in common with many of their brethren love a split EP here, a single there, and stuff for compilations when they have nowhere else to put it.

Many years ago, bands like The Hellacopters did this too – we know as we were in a record club that cost us fortunes bringing them over from Sweden – and how cool it would have been if these songs had been helpfully collected together and put out.

That’s what “Riffography” is. We should also add that it is absolutely mighty.

We’ll start, near the end, if you will, with “Border Crossing” an unreleased track from 2014, and it is a wonderful example of what they do. Like if Clutch got high in the desert and jammed with Fu Manchu, The Midnight Ghost Train and Orange Goblin supplied the vocals. It is proof that if there was a God then Borracho would be huge.

And yet, conversely, while the money and the fame might be nice, the trio don’t appear to be the sort that even give those things a second thought. Rather they’re too busy enjoying the music they make.

Music like the superb “Rectify”, with all the groove and grit you could want, music with all the ingenuity of “Circulos Concentricos” a version of “Concentric Circles” from their 2011 debut, sung in Spanish (one assumes just for the craic) and the absolute highlight of “Mob Gathering” – and sorry to mention Neil Fallon’s men for a second time, but….

The point that needs to be made here is that this is no mere ragbag collection of disparate sounds, these are tracks that needed to be heard.

It would, if not a crime, then surely have verged on a tragedy if stuff as disparate as the short, sharp shock of “Short Ride (When It’s Over)” and the labyrinthian “Stockpile” hadn’t been given a wider audience. And the Southern rock flavoured “Know The Score” is sort of the bridge between the two.

At their best – the gleeful “Know My Name” for example – there is something special about Borracho, the album is well-named too, given that it lives and dies by its riffs, “Kings Disease” has enough to last most bands a lifetime. Indeed, there’s a moment where it changes gear as well as anything.

“Fight The Prophets” gets cowbell bonus points, as well as sounding a bit like CoC which always works around here, “Superego” is like some monolith crushing everything in its path, and then returning to salt the earth just for kicks. “Shark Tank” is proof that you never know what lurks in this muddy water, while there is a genuinely ominous feel about “Animal Magnetism” as if it has been possessed by something not quite of this world.

Although this is a compilation, it is highly probable that anyone picking it up wouldn’t have a clue. Therefore the question is a simple one? Does “Riffography” stand up as an album? The answer to that is equally easy. Yes. It’s brilliant. A rare collection that actually adds to a bands career rather than being some mere stopgap.

Rating 8/10