“‘Dark Sky City’ is my way of remembering and recalling memories of years spent in the Arizona mountains and desert valleys. Each track carries with it a connection to a special place or adventure that helped guide me to where I am today. The warmth that emanates from each guitar recorded in the ep is reminiscent of the feeling when the summer heat clashes with the approaching autumn and the distinctive feeling in the air when seasons are about to change.“
Music has a tendency to mirror your moods and change or inspire you the way you feel. The simple act of listening to pieces can transform you and make you forget whatever is happening. With the work of the Sweden based Arizonian Lela Amparo whose work I became entranced with the “Palm House” (Modularfield, 2018) release, I know that whatever mood I find myself in I know that after listening to her pieces I am in a better place. There is something that is so calming, reflective and straight up enjoyable about what Amparo does that I find speaks to me.
This brief five track ep which has a running time of around thirteen minutes is brimming with her trademark guitar ambience that is full of light with a tone not dissimilar to some post rock work. Subtly is the key when it comes to her pieces using interluding background sounds, layered guitar motifs, bass, electronics, effects and piano. Her music is light and bright in colour and tone but also has enough weight within the material to convey a personal sort of emotion in the pieces. Whether it’s introspection, nostalgia or contentment, its these emotional characteristics that give the material the emotional content that when wrapped together with overall ambience of the pieces, forms this perfect package.
Being that it was released in September which is Autumn in Sweden and presumably recorded during Summer. I wonder if this season conjured up the memory of her former home and the comparison of the two summers has carried more of an emotional heft than it normally would. A piece like “Abner” with its backwards sounds feel like walking back in time with the warped elements feeling like memories flooding back.
If I, who has never been to Arizona were to think of geographically or environmentally, a vast openness and hot temperature would come to mind. The music stays clear of the oppressiveness of the heat instead it focuses on wide open spaces and conjures a feeling of freedom that permeates the pieces. The opening track “Copper Queen” best demonstrates this while providing a great template for those new to her works, while a piece like “Toska” has this light ambient howl which you can imagine the wind to be rushing through the mountains pictured on the cover to sound like.
The beauty of artists that take time between releases is that the releases become statements or time capsules rather than just another release. In the last year Amparo has released just under forty minutes of music which adds an importance to the material and leaves you wanting more. There are certain artists that have featured on these pages on a regular basis because of how I feel about their music and how I hope by featuring them it will inspire someone to listen and discover the joy of their music. Amparo is clearly one of those artists. “Dark Sky City” is available on Cassette from here and Digital and is totally recommended.