Review of A Travs Del Espejo [12k1085]

The Wire (UK)

If you ever feel nostalgic for the time before all childhood recollections became subject to the Instagram aesthetic, then it would be forgivable to spot that Federico Durand’s latest features a track titled “Recuerdos En Super 8” (“Memories on Super 8”). Yet despite the familiarity of the conceptual and sonic ground trodden by Buenos Aires based Durand’s looped vignettes of softly plucked strings and clattering toys – coated with a patina of tape cassette hiss or Roland Space Echo blur, naturally – A Travis Del Espejo still feels genuine enough to tiptoe around the cynicism shields.

One handy approach to Durand’s music comes in the shape of his sometime collaborator Nicholas Szczepanik, with whom Durand teamed up under the name Every Hidden Color for 2012’s Luz LP. They are clearly kindred spirits, but where Szczepanik mines the emotional territory of childhood and family like a cautious archaeologist who knows that unearthed treasures quickly corrode in the act of re-remembering, A Travis Del Espejo conveys a surprisingly immediacy.

Avoiding the rigidity of much loop-based music by applying a less sychronised approach to his sources, tracks float by as lingering snapshots from a past present. Drifting clusters of lyre and (what is probably) kalimba on “mirador En La Montana” and the playful see-sawing droplets of “El Jardin Encantado” create islands of temporal suspension; a tinge of expectation creeps in with “Cancion De La Via Lactea”, which sounds like a shaving from the start of Fripp & Eno’s “Evening Star.”

While the halting, truncated melodies and abrupt tape editing noises of “Lanterns Junto A La Laguna” hint at frustration with the fragmentation of memory, there’s little real darkness in the resulting music. Instead, the modest rings and clunks of found objects evoke sunlit mornings of childish discovery and nurturing domesticity, an aim given voice by “Hora De Dormir” (“Time To Sleep”), which is built around a recording of a woman leading a group of toddlers in play and song.

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