Flowing on an imaginary line that wanders from stillness to desolation, from dream to drama, from evanescence to horror, Barcelonian band Balago’s first album, Erm, encapsulates some of this year’s most exciting minutes. Just a sequencer, a synthesizer, two guitars and a sampler are more than enough to lay the minimal foundations of a project still in progress. David Crespo, Jordi Soldevila and Guim Serradesanferm, the members of this disturbingly promising and yet mature band, draw a sound-and-vision picture that starts with expressive abstraction (seamless ambient, miles away from boredom and embarrassment, epidermal and alive) and leads to highly flammable matters: nothing less than a slow-motion chronicle of blankness and despair.
In that sense, Balago delve into murky matters. While there’s a real danger of finding wrong musical discourses, lacking understanding, full of unattainable pretension and swollen with the banality of hollow message, the Catalan trio knows how to make the most of their frame of mind and nourish their musical idea and their communicative world with truth. Firstly, because in a medium full of grey areas separating dangerously nearby territories of tedium and enduring emotion, they can settle on the latter ones. Here one can feel and sense the slowly beating pulse of pure emotion, free of mannerism and trickery, endowed with an ever-undying deepness. Because some moments in this record stick out (“Adf”, “Carlota” and “Maccabea”, a shattering start) that will become a part of the emotional Best Of 2001.
This first opus also shines and dazzles due to its brave, industrious and ever enthralling use and connection of all the musical influences that have nourished the band so far. It is not easy, not even a priori, to synthesize in one single artistic discourse the heritage of three lively and inquiring music consumers. Hence one of erm’s main credits: its compactness. Ethereal echoes of hoarse ambient akin to those of Seefeel, Main, Aphex Twin, Biosphere and Labradford resound; marks of Hood, Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Tarentel can be perceived in its chronic depression, the main feature of a series of sunken songs that slowly parade dusk-bound. You can also sense the shadows of Piano Magic, Flying Saucer Attack, Windy & Carl, Tortoise or Papa M being momentary and untransferable cornerstones. Balago process these and many other influences and attain a unique way of approaching their music and their emotion. And from that point, that link between flesh and soul, between illusion and experience, between dram and reality, comes their emotional and artistic inquiry. A journey into the centre of our essence.