Live Review: Föllakzoid, Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017

Guitarist Domingo Garcia-Huidobro walks onstage with a careless authority. His shoulder-length frock of blond hair kicks back and forth like the legs of a Rockette. He wears Adidas coochie cutters and shin-high combat boots. His turtleneck sweater is pulled up over his mouth and nose, exaggerating his tall, gaunt frame to Muppet heights of silliness. He is, to understate the effect, an eyeball magnet.

His bandmates in Chilean trio Föllakzoid—bassist Juan Pablo Rodrigues and drummer Diego Lorca—are able foils. Where Garcia-Huidobro’s guitar lines are sinewy and ticklish, their rhythms are repetitive and droney. Where Garcia-Huidobro flails and romps, they are immobile and businesslike.

The contrast is striking. But the combination is intoxicating.

If ’70s krautrock bands disrupted popular music with avant-garde experimentation and electronic ambient, Föllakzoid smooths over the rough edges and enchants with an impressive capacity for groove and chill. Fresh off a collaboration with Spiritualized’s J. Spaceman, these space krauts generate a mood, in particular one that imagines the vibe in the lounge of an intergalactic liner.

Fists punching the air, Garcia-Huidobro eggs on the crowd, yet the volume is never thoroughly pumped up, the jams never fully kicked out. But Föllakzoid focuses on emitting a pulse, riding a wave.

While the band’s first two records were crunchy and Hawkwindy, the four tracks from latest album III are minimalist and feather-light, accentuated with random bursts of ringing chords. “Earth,” for example, opens with the churning inside a starship’s engine room then levels off to a smooth glide, looping back to the coarse intro, then bubbling over with cymbal crashes, guitar feedback and a bass rumble.

Bookending III, “Electric” and “Feuerzeug” are nearly mirror images of one another. Ethereal yet spiky, both tunes sprinkle prickly notes atop a slow but gritty rhythmic base, like dragonflies buzzing over a murky swamp. As with much of tonight’s set list, the songs ooze and hum. And when the moment strikes his fancy, Garcia-Huidobro unleashes a buzzsaw riff that jolts the audience out of its reverie.

Because that’s what wizards do.

—Eric Bensel

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