In 2009, at the height of their bilingual prog-rock popularity, Porter and their lead singer parted ways. They surprisingly called it quits after their participation at Coachella and fell into the pantheon of musica indie bands that you wish had lasted longer.
But all was not lost, 6 years later, Porter re-emerged out of the ashes, valiant, with a new vocalist and an unapologetic concept album that musically explores the psyche and Mexican perspective of the Spanish Conquest.
On their 3rd album, Moctezuma, Porter has infused the rich influences of Mexica and Aztec rhythms with lyrics and titles that contain bits and pieces of Nahuatl (the Aztec language). The prog-rock is still there, but now it sits heavy amongst historical tales and folklore.
The opening number, “Murciélago,” has in its chorus a refrain which interprets the arrival of the Spaniards from a warrior lookout’s viewpoint. Terrified about seeing strange ships dock on their shores, he warns the leaders that this event was prophesied and that caution must be taken. Musically, this opening number then takes on a torment of emotion in the form of rhythmic changes that crescendo and serve as primer for the rest of the album.
“M Bosque” is heavy with lyrics depicting uncertainty and self-doubt and there are bits of underlying references to the myth of Quetzalcoatl, while “Huitzil” explores the aftermath of the Conquest, with soul searching lines about what it means to be Mestizo.
Further along, “La China” begins with a retelling of the Mexicas pilgrimage from the mythical land of Aztlan and ends with them arriving to the lands where they would become kings. Whereas on “Rincon Yucateco,” they fast-forward in time to explore how all the newly conquered peoples of the Americas were indoctrinated by Catholicism.
It’s a dense album full of historical context told from the perspective of a lesser-known voice. At the same time it’s an inspirational concept album that doesn’t pretend to be a revisionist history, but rather simply a musical exposé of a point of view hardly represented in history books or taught in school.
Moctezuma is a conceptual masterpiece that takes you on a carefully thought out journey. This record is culture. Porter is Mexico.