Federico Durand - El idioma de las luciernagas
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The process of a label cherry-picking its releases is no small feat. Featuring the likes of Kyle Bobby Dunn and Mary Lattimore, Desire Path Recordings' latest release follows the arc of the label's past releases perfectly; a familiar palette of sonic materials and compositional techniques arrayed and exhibited with precision and beautiful musicality. Federico Durand's 'El Idioma de las Luciérnagas' ('The Language of Fireflies') is a record that, much like its predecessor (Lattimore's 'The Withdrawing Room'), very much presents the listener with a sonic environment that seems fairly familiar - in this case, field recordings of birds and cicadas, wind chimes, and guitars both electric and acoustic - yet after submersion, shows one this space from a new angle, resulting in a listening experience that seems to be almost active, and participatory.
With releases on Japanese label Home Normal, as well as Luxembourg's Own Records under the moniker of Melodía with Tomoyoshi Date, who's musical influence can very much be heard in 'El Idioma…', Durand is a musician who's work and musical influence is very much represented in the sounds that he produces; understated and grounded. The simple use of such complimentary sounds as present in 'Mumi', for instance - layers of closely mic'ed acoustic guitar melodies, fragments of field recordings, string scratching, and Tübingen-bells - would for many act as somewhat of a blanketing turn-off from the album if said set of sounds was presented to them off a list, or in conversation, merely due to the fact they are so seemingly ever-present in the plethora of homemade internet releases in this musical niche as to have become almost hackneyed over the course of the last few years. Where Durand stands out is that his structuring of each composition, as well as the calibre of the individual sounds themselves, flows with such organic musicality as to flip one's response to the ever-presence of these sounds on its head - and allow the listener to hear them anew, and radically re-contextualised. It is the realisation of this as a listener, as well as the sonic freshness of the record (stemming from the mastering skills of James Plotkin), that forms the aforementioned 'active' nature of the listening experience itself; a most rewarding one at that.
Durand's music calls to mind the magical realism of Alejo Carpentier and Gabriel García Márquez in this respect. Stand-out tracks 'El espejo de mil años', 'Los cristales soñadores' and 'Una ciudad al pie de las montañas' all go beyond what is commonly (and systemically over-used as a go-to description) described as 'immersive' music, and are some of very few tracks that can be said to present one with a fully formed sonic environment that seems to simply exist just parallel to experiences that you as a listener may have had concerning their foundational source material, whilst taking on a sheen of beautiful otherness not often found in any particular art form, a feat for which Durand should be very-much rewarded. 'El Idioma de las Luciérnagas' is a release that rightfully stands alongside the releases of artists of the calibre of Lattimore and Dunn, and will hopefully create a name for Durand on-par with his Desire Path contemporaries in the not so near future.
Review by Max Hampshire