After the superb La Siesta Del Ciprés released last year on Spekk, Buenos Aires-based Federico Durand returns with El éxtasis de las flores pequeñas, a 35-minutes subdued and beautiful evocation of time spent as a child with his grandparents to the woods in the Argentinean South. Using a reduced and evocative sound palette made of piano and acoustic guitar, augmented with field recordings collected in the gardens of Buenos Aires, Durand conjures memories of his lost grandparents’ home, in a delicate and poetic study of nostalgia and childhood.
As the rain pours outside, the gently reverberating piano notes of opener El pequeño huésped sigue dormidoslowly unfurl and are soon accompanied by a quiet acoustic guitar, suggesting a lonely day spent at home, flicking through a worn out photo-album of sepia-tinged pictures. Nothing mournful or sad, just vignettes of long-gone moments, resurfacing and transporting the listener to their own childhood. Subsequent numbers are somehow more oneirical – the melodic motifs being quite distant, suggesting fragments of memories that fold into each other, as in a super-8 film of past holidays. At other times like in Elin for example, the same piano phrase keeps looping, its meaning becoming all the clearer as the piece progresses, as if one could see at last why this particular memory had stuck for so long in our head, giving a sudden new insight into our own story.
Durand has taken great care when recording his instruments, conjuring a necessary distance that perfectly matches his intentions. The piano in La Casa De Los Abuelos is presented through a sonic veil that achingly underlines the nostalgic mood of the piece. In the title track, the guitar is processed through echo and delay-pedals in such a way it suggests faded-out memories, as seen in a shadowbox. Sounds of hands gliding between chord shapes on the guitar’s neck are isolated and amplified, and seems to remove themselves from the interwoven melodies.
Each track tells its story ever so slowly, like a poem being read out loud, progressing at its own unhurried pace. InAtardecer en las montañas, piano and guitar congeal into a droning mass of majestic beauty that drift ecstatically on the surface of a sunlit pond. The delicate touches of xylophone-like instruments add a very interesting contrast to the track that clearly stands out as the most blissful piece on the album. In the closing Kim, Durand’s reverberated guitar comes back in a simple and very evocative chord progression that loops atop processed field recording and gently saturated undulating drones, as a way of letting go of those long-gone memories of childhood, grateful that such moments ever existed.
El éxtasis de las flores pequeñas is a work of extreme sensibility that avoids unnecessary sentimentality or cliched evocations – Federico Durand unveiling its narrative through delicate strokes of unassuming beauty.
Review from Fluid-Radio.