Hermanos Gutiérrez
Photo: Jim Herrington / Shore Fire Media

Hermanos Gutiérrez Explore the Final Frontier on ‘Sonido Cósmico’

In Sonido Cósmico, Hermanos Gutiérrez take to the stars, evoking the open spaces of an imagined Wild West and the even greater mystique of the final frontier.

Sonido Cósmico
Hermanos Gutiérrez
Easy Eye Sound
14 June 2024

Playing together as Hermanos Gutiérrez since 2015, brothers Alejandro and Estevan Gutiérrez made a global splash in 2022 with their fifth album, El Bueno y el Malo. Laced with spaghetti western-adjacent guitar twangs and a finely-honed sense of drama, it saw the Swiss brothers draw on sounds from Nashville, Hollywood, and their mother’s native Ecuador to create an instrumental desert dreamscape. Now, they team up with Dan Auerbach for another Easy Eye Sound release: Sonido Cósmico, an album as expansive as it sounds. In it, they take to the stars, evoking the open spaces of an imagined Wild West and the even greater mystique of the final frontier.

Even on a celestial trip like this one, the brothers make do with a streamlined toolkit. Broadly echoing guitars and sparing percussion make up the bulk of the instrumentation, though delicate touches of plugged-in keys–Hammond, Rhodes, Mellotron, Juno, and Farfisa instruments all feature at various points–are vital to lofting the album from the earth toward the moon.

No matter how spacey it all becomes, though, the human warmth of the Gutiérrez brothers’ playing continues to define their sound: their delicate approach to their instruments transforms string sounds into living voices, resonant in terms of both acoustics and emotions. Alejandro slides up and down his fingerboard on the melancholy opener “Lágrimas Negras” with veritable sighs; the brothers’ complementary lines on “Abuelita” make for a heartrending counterpoint.

Their tender lyricism makes it even more thrilling when things move in a more overtly cinematic direction. The stinging flourishes of “Low Sun” and the eerie, rippling reverb of “El Fantasma” suggest classic movie showdowns. Later, the title track offers an especially vivid example of how quickly the brothers can move into a more epic performance mode. “Sonido Cósmico” opens with pulsing electric guitar signals and unfolds into sparkling orbit, poetic touches of strings and the distant thunder of drums fleshing out the brothers’ most ambitious exploration.

Working on a smaller but no less exciting scale, playful “Barrio Hustle” follows, Hammond and Rhodes blending with the gravity of heavy wahs to build a bit funky tension. “Misterio Verde” ends Sonido Cósmico with a light touch and a subtly wild edge, Hermanos Gutiérrez having made it through this episode of their adventures and ready to ride on to the next–wherever that takes them.

The Hermanos Gutiérrez sound fits beautifully into the current zeitgeist of cool instrumental sounds. Fitting somewhere among the Khruangbins and BADBADNOTGOODS of this world, the brothers nonetheless produce their distinct textures through intricate fingerpicking and their references to North and South American styles and aesthetics. Sonido Cósmico is not so far out as to thoroughly shake up their sound. Still, its heavenward momentum makes for a fresh new entry in their catalog, presenting just enough of a perspective shift to feel like an innovation without compromising the creative identity they’ve developed over their years playing together.

It’s not surprising that it’s been a massive couple of years for Hermanos Gutiérrez, including their first-ever Coachella performance this past April. As Sonido Cósmico makes clear, they have plenty of tricks up their sleeve, and while many of them are still based in the deserts of terra firma, these brothers are more than capable of getting off the ground–and then some.

RATING 8 / 10