Fine release of industrial noise laced with poetry, dreams, nostalgia and psychological underpinnings from the team of Javier Hernando and Ángel Lalinde on the Vacuola (WET DREAMS RECORDS WDR 013) album, sent to us from Barcelona. Note the lovely sleeve art with its collages, treated photos, and clipped paper assemblages, put together by Lalinde I think, worthy of the “surrealist” epithet and doing a lot to hint at dark dreams and lost innocence, much like a darker and more troubled version of the work of Joseph Cornell.
These 12 short tracks offer strange, ambiguous episodes depicting a mind processing its way through dreams, nightmares, altered states and troubling times…there’s noise here for sure, but not as “grim” as much industrial music can be, nor as menacing as the vicious emanations of Miguel A Garcia. Instead, much subtlety and dynamic changes, and interestingly odd, appealingly bizarre electronic sounds, framed in useful non-linear contexts that hint at fractured storytelling, or disjointed movie reels, hopefully projected on a crumpled bedsheet with an old 8-mm projector. A “vacuole” appears to be something which only an expert in molecular cell structure would understand, and you tend to find them in plant life or bacteria rather than in human organisms, but I like the idea that our brave team might be choosing to operate on this microscopic level, the better to conceal their forbidden quests and daring adventures. I’m also drawn to the notion that this music – cathartic as it often is – represents a kind of “evacuation” for the mind, a cleansing action as it purges through the bad thoughts like so much prussic acid.
Well, Javier Hernando I find is a “veteran” performer active since 1979 (as Xeerox) and seems to have been a part of that “golden age” of Spanish underground music of which we’ve received hints and snapshots from the wonderful Verlag System and their reissue programme for the Toracic Tapes label run by Miguel A Ruiz. Another part of this fascinating history is the Ortega Y Cassette label of Barcelona, a similar magnet for like-minded disaffected souls, with only five releases that we know of including one by the famed Esplendor Geometrico – Hernando appeared on the label as Melodinamika Sensor. Indeed Hernando, who has also recorded as Sinusoidal, had two releases on Toracic Tapes, and although he arrived four years late to the party I feel sure his works are in line for reissue some time soon. Like those other Toracic gems Orfeon Gagarin and Funeral Souvenir, Hernando’s work here exhibits a similar wild and impassioned imaginative approach to music, tempered only by his close-lipped countenance and determined focus on the task at hand – more than once, the music here comes close to hypnotising the listener and transporting us into his inner dream-scape of “la muerte eterna”.
I’m thoroughly enchanted by this music, with its powerful mix of implied violence and romantic tenderness, dream-like beauty and nightmarish terror, often co-existing in the same space. From 29 July 2022, and recommended.