Thursday, December 20, 2012

CD Review: Xera's 'Llume'


Xera, a Spanish music group, brings us a slew of earthly and seemingly unearthly songs that incorporate a plethora of instruments and sounds.  The styles are somewhat electronic, spacey, contemporary, and archaic.  The atmospheric sounds reflect a new age presence, but the heavy industrial tones and folk melodies suggest a more balanced act of modern and classic music that fits somewhere in-between world beat and world fusion. “Alo” opens with a long, extended vocal medley of virtually unchanging vocal tones.  The female voice is solo early on until mid-song, where keyboard washes and some jingly percussion take over.  The single female voice is basically unaccompanied, but the voice is joined by back-up vocals in a similar vein near the end of the song.  This song is more of a display of folk music than anything contemporary.  However, the electronic washes and percussion display some aspect of modernity. “Vientos” begins with a blurby, electronic whirring sound and a shape-shifting breezy noise with the rustic wavering of a hurdy-gurdy type instrument.  An acoustic guitar begins where the intro noises leave off, but the electronic washes do not disappear.  A free-floating female vocalist adds some tonal color to the song with keyboard accompaniment.  Suddenly, the music dives into a European whirlwind of folk idioms with lively acoustic guitar, string work, and plucked and keyed noises that get the heart and feet moving.  The female vocal returns with atmospheric washes and quivers of strings that end in an amazing kaleidoscopic finale of folk and electronica. Interestingly, the music is rather folk-centric overall. “Yo Quixera” begins with a choral performance and a solo spoken male voice in the foreground. There is an electronic wash and blurby sound that represents a bit of Spanish or Latin techno/down-tempo concoctions that are spacey, spicey, and evocative.  The string-like tones provide a sense of classicism in an age of modernity.  There are electronic bagpipe sounds that effervesce in-between the electronic washes and bubbly choral voices.  There is a lot going on, but Xera seems to keep everything united and engaging. “Camin” opens with a bit of electronic and industrial-like percussion that is a somewhat tribal beat, but in a more avant-garde manner.  The instrumental opening contains a sense of folk elements that incorporate ruddy guitars and rumbling atmospheric washes.  The post-apocalyptic mishmash of sounds comes to life mid-song, as the Nordic fiddling matches the driving percussion.  The background choral sounds are archaic and futuristic with random shouts, didgeridoo-like noises, and Scandinavian-type roots music with a good dose of folk/rock to go around. “Mio Fonte” opens with an angelic electronic wash of choral voices and soft, sparkling bell-like tones that weave in and out of the heavens.  The washes accompany some folksy vocals that contain background choral tones and crystalline, yet fluid, melodies and intonations.  The new age and folk-centered track incorporates a buzzy, bell-like sound that creates a magical atmosphere.  Some of the vocals are intentionally drowned out mid-song to allow the instrumental elements room to breathe, before the sparkling tones and spacey washes give way to a more heady, industrial and mechanical output.  The quivering fiddle accompanies the heavier tones with ease. Xera’s new release, Llume, is a dark, swirling mix of upbeat, contemplative, and heady tunes that fill a void in the world of fusion and new age-based music.  The mix of instruments and almost indistinguishable voicings makes some of the tracks stand out with unquenchable appeal.  The sounds, tones, melodies, rhythms, and instrumental segments are all appropriate and memorable. Fans of new age, electronica, folk, Scandinavian, Spanish, and fusion music will love Xera’s new forward-thinking release. ~ Matthew Forss 

1 comment:

Dan said...

Hello, thanks for your review, which is very interesting and technically accurate. However, songs 1 and 2 (Alo and Vientos) are song by a male voice. I know this sounds nearly impossible, but you can easily check yourself in videos on youtube. I have seen the band live several times as well and I can guarantee you it's a male vocalist. Just thought it was important to point out... Thanks again for your review though