Receiving an email from Rotten Man I opened expecting to have been sent some sort of Noise release. I had not heard of Spanish imprint and purveyor of art, Rottenman Editions until now and was pleasantly surprised by this too brief release. Emilía is the duo of Lee Yi and Meneh Peh (aka Vanesa Jimenez) who both previously recorded under the Niñocometa moniker (releasing the “Tukae” back in 2012).
Yi and Peh construct the album using only bowed guitar and piano to stunning effect. Recently I have been listening to music composed with lots of different elements and instruments, so it is quite a refreshing change to listen to something constructed with such few instruments that is so rich in sound.
“Emilìa and the Unknown Kid” starts off with layered droning bowed guitar that has different depths and textures to it with one having a more melodic drone tone with the other gives a darker tone. A third bass drone cuts through the two as the three of them wind around each other to form an orchestral section that is reminiscent of a string section.
“Emilìa” fuses affected muted piano with loops, clicks and sounds that oscillate out and glitch. There is a submerged feel with the track having a murky feel to it. The track starts with a jolt as if a stylus has been placed mid track and the record player started. It would be interesting if this track was longer and maybe flowed into a more conventional modern classical track.
“Down to the Sadness River” is such a brief track, just 66 seconds long, but the bowed guitar sounds like one of the intro/outros that My Bloody Valentine used on the “Loveless” lp. It has a combination of drones with the guitar cutting across, but also a pleasant melody.
“The Sewing Room” starts with a single siren – like drone and then features multi layered drones that fuse together to create this string section that sound like they are accompanying a suspenseful silent film. The drones dissipate to leave a pair that cross over each other in arching fashion.
“Strange Light” melancholic with a sense of foreboding as the bowed guitars create both traditional drones and sounds like a violin section that is making music for mourning.
“Solemn Silence” is the shortest piece at 34 seconds, but is the most cinematic with the music giving a visual sense of someone who is driving away, at night in the rain from something that has caused them alto of despair.
“Fish Market” sounds more like a traditional guitar track with the scraping sound while it is being bowed. A high reaching , apocalyptic sounding drone underlays it which in a way counters the mood of the guitar, which comes across as having a sense of quiet acceptance and understanding.
“One of his little shoes” makes you question the sound source. Surely this just can’t be only bowed guitar and made by two people. The piece is multi layered with both light and shade and while only 56 seconds long shows both Yi’s and Peh’s ability to construct such beautiful vignettes.
“Oil Bread” features muted piano that has a light, soft feel to it with delicate tones that seem to be contained as if they were trapped in a bubble. It’s almost like they are held back from being long notes. They are just so delicate, non-over powering and it gives the track another dimension than being a stock standard Modern Classical track.
“Close” year another short track that starts with frantic bowed guitar that are underscored by a bass – like sound,while notes sweep with melody above it. Another all too brief track ( 57 seconds long) as just when it when it appears to venture into new territory fades out.
The use of the colour blue for the artwork gives an indication to the mournful quality of the music. While I am aware of some sort of back story to the album by the titles of the tracks and as I wasn’t given a press release, I would hasten to have a guess at the overall theme and/or inspiration. All I can day is that these 10 beautiful pieces are over too briefly and the album leaves you wanting more.
This highly recommended release comes in a limited edition of 20 handmade copies with cyanotype on canvas and small numbered artwork/prints (see below).