23 February 2011

Federico Durand - el éxtasis de las flores pequeñas (2011, Own)

Third album for Federico Durand, living in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Argentina, after his debut "Elin" (2008) and his marvelous second one "La siesta del ciprés" (2010), a major ambient release and a strong emotional discovery of last year for me.

On this third opus, he is pushing away the boundaries of his style once again, not by experimenting with new textures and harsh sounds and textures but by combining and deepening his usual palette with a now cleaner and clearer sound (no more hiss) and a more important incorporation of field recordings (collected in gardens of Buenos Aires) breathing into his own compositions, giving room to his guitar & piano playing and processed keyboard sound waves.

"El éxtasis de las flores pequeñas" relates "a passage with his grandparents to the woods in the Argentinean South, a mystical trip towards the gardens of childhood". In a certain way he achieved what I expected from the collaboration album made by Sawako and Daisuke Miyatani ("Hi Bi No Ne", Schole, 2008). Where their album was deceptively just a collage and a compromise of their separate talents, by opposition, exploring new ways to express himself, he develops here through his compositional research, a surprising conjunction between intimacy, sensitivity and atmospheres, embracing the instant with both strength, nuance and presence, taking care of never falling completely in a too emotional discharge or ornamentation.

It opens with the rainy "El pequeño huésped sigue dormido, like waiting under a porch while it's pouring, with the sound of piano music coming from a nearby window, both melding and nurturing a reverie. "Los niños escriben poemas en tiras de papel rojo" rapidly wakes us up to the dying sunlight at dusk, in a garden, one late summer evening, troubled by both the graceful solace of the scene and vivid sentiments of melancholia. This is beautiful beyond limits and you just wish to lay on such grass and let tears arise.

Follows a completely reworked and refined version of "Elin", from his debut album. But it's just through this shared name that I'm able to make the link, the accuracy of the new version is impressive, straight to the point of emotional impact, like watching, late in the evening, people walking in the street towards terrace and restaurants, from the darkened and hidden side of a window, in an apartment or from the backseat of a car, feeling both ways not really able to join the crowd, like stuck in a state of despondency though enjoying this background situation.

"La casa de los abuelos" mixes apprehension and feelings of loss and dissolution, the declining of an ephemeral happiness, now seemingly long gone, with field recordings of traffic giving an idea of distance. Like making a brief pause during a long trip along an highway, with the sound of grasshoppers and birds, feeling already far and not yet arrived.

"El éxtasis de las flores pequeñas", the title track is surprisingly short and floats like a beautiful impression, as a sudden idea or emotion which transcends the natural aura of maybe a public park, making us more sensitive and in symbiosis. "Atardecer en las montañas" is a more mineral drone soundscape, a stony ground walk on a high plateau with a rising autumnal sun as focal point.

If "Los niños escriben poemas en tiras de papel rojo" outshines the first part of the album, the real destination is "Kim", the closing track, whose simple guitar lines develop particularly moving melancholic feelings, sharing a strong level of intimacy, despair, and paradoxically, glow. As refreshing as the first drops of a stormy shower after days of heatwave, as salty as tears when we taste them.

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