Spanish duo Lee Yi and Meneh Peh make, under the Emilìa moniker, some of the most breath-taking miniatures in the Modern Classical/Drone field. Their previous release “Down To The Sadness River” made my best of list for 2017. Since then Lee Yi has been active with two releases under his belt – one for Shimmering Moods Records and the other for the duo’s Rottenman Editions imprint (as is this release). The duo have this ability to create emotively short works that leave you on the precipice wanting more. If any artist(s)/releases deserve wider recognition, it’s definitely Emilìa as their music is hauntingly captivating.
“Emilía presents a new album creating a bond both intimate and emotional. Orchestral pieces as well as deep elegiac sounds, emanating from the same main idea of this project, creating a connection between memories and feelings; looking through the window of the “past”. “Spring through a window” is born of nostalgia understood as the need to be in “another part” or “another condition”, to overcome temporality and finitude. Nostalgia as a diffuse experience, at the same time persistent and painful. From not knowing what to return to, or how to return to a state from which you have lost all clear memories. These recordings aim to draw a line where the ghosts from yesterday & beauty coexist together.“
“Morning Elegy” offers a blink and you will miss it flurry of sound. Scratchy strings mix, clattering sounds with haunting snatches of voices altogether cloaked in a dark ambience. An elegy refers to “a poem of serious reflection, a lament to the dead” and with the vocal part of this track there is an earnestness felt in the voices – as if a choir is singing at a funeral.
“The Waiting Chair” a shimmering and hazy sound of undulating tones leads through to a percussion and string driven section that is wringing with pent-up emotion. Musically it reminds me of some of the style of music that you hear via the Lost Tribe Sound imprint, especially William Ryan Fritch. The music feels like it’s coming in waves, much like those hitting a boat out in the sea with nothing around it. The boat moves from side to side as the waves push it any way that they feel. Emilìa show utilizing strings, drones, piano/keyboards and repetition, how they can create a physical form of music.
“Mirto” taking deep bows of cello and pairing it with equally deep violin passages, the duo interlock the instruments to create a piece where you detect distance between the instruments and it feels in a way a call and response track. Where one musician draws their bow, the other responds and as the track works its way they come together in a way fusing their instruments and also experimenting with them.
“Spring Through The Window” the title track and Emilìa epic (it roughly is half the length of the previous Ep and this Ep) sees the duo unleash a full piece or neo classical experimentation composed largely of cello, violin and piano. The piano and the distant and dark recording it possesses gives the track a slightly percussive feel and the way that it echoes at the end makes the track feel like it is forever going. The cello feels like a musical saw that is cutting across in sound, while the violin appears to be floating in the ether, like a ghostly presence. When you look deeply into the track to separate the elements, you see how each one adds their own character – such as the fragility of some of the piano parts, but also how each part compliments the others to create a haunting track.
“Dawn Will Heals Everything” after the title tracks darkness the shutters have been opened with a bit of light being introduced. There is a slice of introspection/melancholy woven into the track which has aching strings swirling over orchestral drones that act as a swell in the music (going back to my earlier boat analogy) that pushes it forward. Its only in the final part of the piece that the strings are left by themselves to sing out.
“Closed Eyes” a piece that while it shares instrumentation common to the rest of the tracks on the album, it feels more about putting mood and atmosphere front and center. The truest form of vignette, the music has a rolling, looping feel with the deep bass sounds of cello creating the underbelly rumble, while other cello is the focal point. But the element which has the least amount of time in the piece and probably acts more like a signpost leading the way than a leading instrument, is the piano. It just has the right noirish tone which supports the rest of the track, but also draws you in.
“Drowned Laments” when you think about bass drum beats traditionally dance music comes to mind. In this case the beats act more like an irregular heart beat that underpins the murky strings that are both hanging with weight, but also have a woozy and disjointed feel. If you are to take the tracks title literally then this makes a lot of sense. The beats could reference the pounding headache and the remaining sounds, the uneasy feeling inside.
“Rough Embrace” while some of the tracks have been thick with sound, this final track feels musically like the feeling I would also get from the word “elegy”. There is a certain mournfulness in it’s maddeningly short life span that feels as if it is looking back on things, people’s, incidents with both a heavy heart, but also a sense of acceptance to things that have happened. The strings that career alongside the main drones could be interpreted as weeping, which both indicates loss, but also a realization of things that have come and gone.
Once more Emilìa have made a short release that demands, nay screams repeat listening. This is not background music. This is the type of music that requires mindful listening so that like an onion, its layers can be pulled back to reveal more and more. At times it can be a little frustrating for the tracks to be so short – this is only because they are so good, but brevity is the duo’s strong point as the music is concise and leaves you wanting more and more. It’s about time that a bigger label (within this small, but vibrant scene) pick them up or someone gets them to score a film. I genuinely think they are ready. “Spring Through The Window” is available now on handmade CD and Digital.