sábado, 26 de febrero de 2011
Balago - Extractes D’un Diari
Genre: Ambient, Experimental
Label: Foehn Records
If we look up a concept like “urban melancholy” in the dictionary, we probably won’t find what we are looking for. In reality, there’s no likely definition or category in which to place it, but everyone more or less knows what we’re talking about when we say that. There are artists, groups, composers, and producers who appear to have been born expressly to give voice, image, and sound to this idea.Burial, Fennezs after “Endless Summer”, the more ambient Brian Eno, Stars Of The Lid, and a long list of figures capture this explosion of intimate, interiorised emotion in their creations—almost in slow motion, unfocused—and they manage to integrate in into the context of a big city and all of the sentimental, personal issues characterised there. They have the gift of creating images, sensations, and moments of loneliness, tiredness, uncertainty, and sadness in the context of the immensity of granite and asphalt; they, and some others, are the real creators of the soundtrack of the present day, the ones who best know how to put sound and audio to our time.
The Catalan band Balago belongs, without a shadow of a doubt, to this line of solitary names—curiously all influences recognised by the band’s leader, David Crespo—who strike out on their own and, without even trying to, put music to interminable bus rides down long avenues, tense, uneasy walks down dark streets, sunrises seen through the front window of a taxi, required stops at 24-hour petrol stations or convenience stores, or angry bouts of late-night jogging. Contrary to what logic tells us, for getting powerful, danceable hits to increase your effort and motivation, few experiences this year can equal that of going out to burn shoe rubber on a dark night with “Extractes d’un Diari” on your iPod. Let’s mix bubbling endorphins, cold, knackered pedestrians on their way home from work, an acceptable rhythm per kilometre, and the modest ambient symphony suggested by this group from La Garriga in their comeback, and we will get one of those moments to keep in your musical memory, like the first time that you heard “Untrue” on the way home after an infernal working day, or the first time that you thought to put the soundtrack to “Solaris” by Cliff Martinez on to isolate yourself from the surrounding drunken hubbub of an underground car on any given Friday night.
In “Extractes d’un Diari”, Balago recover the support of some beats, inject more melodic weight into the songs, play more emphatically with synthesisers, and end up transmitting more life, body, and muscle to their discourse. And all of this without leaving that circle of ambient-soundtrack where they are so at home, ever since the best passages of “El Segon Pis”, a second album whose wake is taken up again here, insisting on the idea of establishing a linear plot from flashes and sparks lasting one to two minutes, totally contrary to the long tracks on “D’Aquii”. It doesn’t seek to be one, nor is it in reality, but in a sense the album works as a summary and compendium of the sound personality of David Crespo over the course of a decade. The meticulous mastery of drone and the ambient of “D’Aquii”, the capacity for emotive condensation of “El Segon Pis”, the intelligent use of melodies of “erm”, and the cinematographic, evocative, visual ambition—seemingly satisfied, by the way—of his soundtracks for films and plays. There are also some new things added to the mix: cosmic flirtations in some fragments, without stridency, but with a great deal of intention and a good nose for sound; the surprising rhythmic charge of some songs; or occasional dabbling in psychedelics give his formula colour and new possibilities, inviting one to think very well of the group’s future.
If someone had asked me a few months ago how I thought that Balago would sound in 2010, I couldn’t have come up with a better explanation than this album. And this is something that has happened, personally, with each one of the four albums that make up the band’s career. “Extractes d’un Diari” is ambient that is exciting, alive, moving, and relatively easy, accessible, just what we were asking for or what we needed at this exact moment. The (near) achievement of a sound ideal that continues to stand entirely alone within the context of Spanish music, and which in a fair world would have to have a British, American, or German passport in order to receive the international recognition and applause that it really deserves. A blessed anomaly