y culebra by Monte Espina

Monte Espina | y culebra
Marginal Frequency (CD)

After spending decades surrounded by innumerable species of investigational sonority, I am still pretty ashamed with myself when tackling the work of artists I had literally never heard of before. By looking at the press release for y culebra, not only the names of Venezuelan Ernesto Montiel and Miguel Espinel didn’t ring any bell (assonance intended), but even in the list of their colluders I struggled to locate familiar presences, notwithstanding the “Dallas-Denton axis” blurb quote as an aid for this writer’s unsuccessful mnemonic systematization.

Well, acknowledging ignorance when the learning process is initiated by the music itself is not a problem for yours truly. Firstly, the cold facts: the title is an ironically bitter allusion to the socio-political and economical unbalance between the city of Caracas and the rest of the country, left without genuine developmental perspectives by the local government. The recordings occurred in December 2017 in a studio named “Infinite Ohm”, which clashes a little with the type of sonic matter you’re going to be welcomed by.

Although a small fraction of the undeclared sources can be distinguished – selected pieces of percussion, guitar strings (perhaps), ruined tapes (perhaps II), plus a plethora of unidentified objects rubbed, stricken, dropped and variously manipulated – the bulk of Monte Espina’s sound comes from the amplification of otherwise negligible noises and the aggrandizement of certain inherent frequencies that may or may not be caught by the ear in normal circumstances. At the basis, a strong sense of pulse: whatever is happening – in near-silence, or through thick slabs of grimy resonance – we’re often implicitly reassured by some sort of pattern. A looped cluster of bumps, the recurrent surge of a black-ish lava, the gliding powerfulness of a subsonic cloud speckled by tiny harmonic lights. The outcome is organically multiplex, at the same time suggesting the obscurity of an uncertain future and a feeling of comfortable control on our emotions.

The non-attendance of gratuitously chaotic elements in this lucid improvisation positively affects the listening experience; we absorb everything, and discard nothing. Conceptual comparisons? Zoviet France (Robin Storey era) and Cremaster, the trio of Ruth Barberán, Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Ferran Fages. However, when the 57 minutes have elapsed, the lingering sensation is that of having witnessed from afar a sequence of earthly tremors amidst unusual meteorological mutations.

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