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Kiltro returns with ‘Guanaco’

One of the treasures of the Colorado music world is Kiltro, a Denver-based, Latin-folk/indie group fronted by Chilean-American singer-songwriter Chris Bowers Castillo.

Kiltro recently announced their next album Underbelly will be released on June 2. They also dropped the new single “Guanaco,” a slow-building, multilayered song that is on one hand gentle, warm, and welcoming, but on another is simmering with a growing tension that feels ready to explode.

“A guanaco is a South American animal that is a bit like a llama” and is “known for spitting,” Castillo explains about the song. But “in Chile it has another meaning, and is colloquially used to refer to police vehicles that shoot water at protestors.” Which helps explain the song’s rising tension and underlying anxiety.

Guanaco single kiltro cover art

“We wrote this song in the wake of the 2019 protests for a new constitution in Chile,” he continues. “The line ‘ya viene el guanáco’ means simply ‘here/now comes the guanáco,’ which against a driving, melancholic backdrop, had an almost fairy tale quality to it.”

However, he adds that he felt it also “communicated a sense of foreboding and nervous anxiety. Taken more literally, it means a beast is coming, here. Of course, a guanaco is not a terrifying thing, but a police line in riot gear with the machinery of dispersion and violence, is.”

Kiltro has now also released a music video for the song. It’s a beautiful, colorful experience that combines vintage movie moments with images that pay homage to early avant-garde cinema.

“Some time ago, Will and I began compiling found footage and visual art from the Creative Commons,” Castillo wrote in a Facebook post about the video. “These were old movies from the early to mid-20th century, experimental sci-fi films, documentaries, and abstract ambient works that we would project on a screen as we rehearsed. Certain pieces stuck, and it was often difficult to explain why. Imagery and characters with no apparent connection to the lyrics or emotional content of the songs would create a kind of dreamlike, subconscious dialogue with the music. It was fascinating.”

For the “Guanaco” video, he says, the images were “arranged purposefully” and chosen for their ability to “thread a conversation with the music, often beyond the grasp of logical sense but somehow meaningful nonetheless.”

Kiltro Underbelly album 2023 cover art

Underbelly, Kiltro’s second full-length album, will be released June 3. The band is also embarking on a U.S. tour this summer.

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