1870/Mil Ochocientos Setenta
Mitos De Una Resurrección

(Luna Negra)

A very favourable opinion (a "qualified opinion", of course) about this CD convinced me that spending a few afternoons listening to Mitos De Una Resurrección would not be a waste of time. I have to admit I knew next to nothing about the line-up that recorded this album, a quartet called 1870, or Mil Ochocientos Setentas: I only know that this is a Mexican group, whose members - at least, judging from the one and only photograph included in the CD booklet - appear to be forty-something. A fact which, when coupled with the assurance and maturity of their playing, both elements being quite easy to get when listening to this CD, tells us of men with a fine degree of experience, and musical empathy.

The instrumentation is quite unusual. Gustavo Alberrán - he wrote all the music, the group did the arrangements - is featured on horn, vocals, cymbals and drums. Alfonso Cosme plays a processed horn, percussion, and a keyboard (the word appearing on the cover is the generic term "teclado", which judging "by ear" to me sounds quite like a treated piano). Karel Gómez plays the oboe, the English horn, and the Theremin. Hugo Luque is responsible for electronics and real-time treatments. In cases like this one really has to mention the guy who did the recording, the mastering, and the digital mastering: kudos to Mr. Paco-Lucas.

While the music featured on this album could be called for the most part original, it's the sound that's really noteworthy (an analytical distinction, of course). All sounds are very clear, and all are very clearly placed in the stereo spectrum, somewhat like an album of classical music, or, better said, of "early electronic music" (first names that came to my mind: Tod Dockstader and Morton Subotnick). There's a nice "traveling in stereo" of both instruments and sounds, and changing echoes and timbres, (in my opinion) working like stage lights in a theatre, underlying that "stage spirit" of a "piéce" that one can feel here and there in the work.

If we talk about musical "languages", I'd say that sometimes one can hear traces of Baroque music - check the first track, Puerta Abierta (Open Door). While - at least superficially - the oboe (also the treated oboe, sounding almost like a bassoon) reminded me of those sad moments in the work of the group Univers Zero. The "home-made"-sounding electronics of El Ceremonial (The Ceremony) and some throaty voices reminded me of Zga (does anybody still remember that old Latvia line-up?). While some beatings, some nasal oscillators reminded me of Faust (especially on the album The Faust Tapes). Readers are invited to consider the above-mentioned names just as an aide to understanding, and not necessarily as real influences.

At about 10' of cumulative length, Puerta Abierta and Canto Primero (First Chant) are both fine album openers, the former featuring winds and percussion in a strict cadenza, the latter featuring a very strange falsetto voice.

At about 13' each, Mitos De Una Resurrección (Mith Of A Resurrection) and El Ceremonial were for this writer the most stimulating moments of the whole work: electronic strips in a dialogue with winds in the former track, with percussion and treatments coming to the fore in the latter. Though it happens in the course of the whole album, it's especially here that one can easily perceive the group's masterful use of their instruments and the abundance of ideas.

Canto Segundo (Second Chant) appears as a more theatre-inspired moment: there's a vocal narration, which for this writer was impossible to understand: I often heard the words Bosquecillo (Tiny Wood), Profundo Sobór (Deep Sleep), and Ermaphrodita. The "sound stages" going hand-in-hand with the narrative (I suppose!).

At about 10', just like the previous track, Una Vendetta (A Revenge) has a clear development, which - at least, when compared to other parts of the album - to me sounds a bit too predictable.

In closing, talking about the music/sound part of the album, I'd say it definitely deserves a good listen, at least by those who consider the aforementioned coordinates as being worth their time.

There is also a subtext whose existence at first I hadn't even imagined: the booklet features a picture of a gentleman, the Count of Lautréamont, who died on November, 24th, 1870 - here one can't help but link the group's name and album's title to that. On impulse, I decided that man to be a Mexican Revolutionary whose existence I had previously ignored. A fast Web search revealed to me the man in question to be the Comte de Lautréamont (1846-1870), the pseudonym of Isidore Ducasse, the writer of two books, the most famous being Les Chants Du Maldoror; while at first being perceived as a psychopath, he came to be appreciated by people like Alfred Jarry and surrealist André Breton.

Here readers will have to decide for themselves.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2009

CloudsandClocks.net | Jan. 29, 2009