LP BundleJune 16, 2017 Mexican Summer
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma LP Bundle
On The Echoing Green
In contrast to the haze and hermetic process of previous albums, Green was conceived as a deliberate experiment in clarity and collaboration: “I was interested in trying to bring out more overt pop elements, to let them come to the front and be present. I also have more trust now in letting things happen – trusting other people’s musicianship, and being open to people’s ideas. Eventually, things emerge.”
What emerged from this bond are eight rapturous and richly melodic slow dives of swirling guitar, bass, synthesizer, piano, and drum machines, dramatically accented in places by heavenly arcs of voice courtesy of Argentinian singer-songwriter Sobrenadar. Cantu-Ledesma encouraged chemistry and intuition in the studio by beginning the album without any demos for reference; he and his collaborators pursued patterns and hypnotic textures across long-form improvisations until gradually songs began to take shape.
This is music of growth and grandeur, of ascent and exploration, played with purpose and passion by a craftsman in tune with the beauty of sound and the harmony of light. In his words: “[This album] feels like spring – things coming alive, blooming, emerging from winter.”
A Year With 13 Moons
A Year With 13 Moons, a nod to a Rainer Werner Fassbinder film, was recorded at the Headlands Center for the Arts, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco – where he and Clipson were artist in residence. It was a time of major transition. As he describes it, “the time at the Headlands was a real gift – of space, time and being cared for. This allowed me to create music in a way I never had before, on a day–in, day–out basis for hours on end. I stopped caring about end results and fell in love with the process. I learned how to let the music create itself in a way, to lead me rather than trying to force it down a path. I would start each session with a simple rhythm, or sound or a guitar riff & see where that led – it was cathartic, freeing and ultimately really transformed my approach to music making. In the end I was left with literally hours & hours of recordings. A Year With 13 Moons was culled from these and formed while traveling the week after I left the residence.”
Using a friend’s reel to reel tape player, Cantu employed electric guitar, modular synthesizer, drum machine and concrète sounds from his surroundings at the Headlands, recorded while walking to the studio, cooking in the kitchen, talking with friends, the ocean, films he was watching, driving in a car. Everything was record stereo to tape. There is only one track with overdubs – otherwise each take is a true document of an entirely live take.
The result is gorgeous, haunting and sprawling. A companion to his last full length LP, Love is A Stream, (Type, 2010), 13 Moons, is a dense, swirling mass. A bookend to the end of a relationship. To say 13 Moons is comprised of “songs” might not be entirely accurate. They’re closer to transmissions from a satellite of love. Opener “The last time I saw your face” sets the tone. A bittersweet goodbye letter that unites guitars and modular synthesizer to widescreen ends over the course of its 8 and half minutes. It works dramatically well as an opening statement, and also as a summary of what he’s been doing in recent years. Second track, “In and Out of Love”, on the other hand seems to represents where Cantu might be going. Notably, this is one of the earliest recordings where drums feature. The pitched down LinnDrum adding a touch of Michael Mann to the shoegazy proceedings.