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Mus | Aida/ Bliss Out v.17 (Darla)
Bliss out, indeed! For this gorgeous slab of unfolding ambience, there's hardly a peep of percussion. The electronic rhythms of previous Mus recordings are momentarily banished and replaced with a series of drifting movements and themes made up of minimal instrumental phrases. The core Mus line up of Monica Vacas and Fran Gayo are joined by the guitarists Ivan Palacios and Luigi Navarro on this contribution to the Darla records Bliss Out series. Two long gliding pieces make up Aida, drawing inspiration from acoustic, electronic and ambient quarters, adorned with very occasional vocal interludes. The first piece, Aquel Inviernu, begins with repetitious toy piano and eerily soothing bowed strings, creating an environment akin to a hybrid of Pharaoh Sanders' Japan and Jack Nitzsche's title theme for 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. This in turn blends swiftly and effectively into a self contained mass of chiming guitars, Farfisa/Vox organ lines, vibraphones and electronics, reminiscent of the layering of sounds that are distinctive of Jason Pierce's work in Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. The music retreats for a moment, bringing a wordless vocal chant to the fore, with distant stabs of piano in the background, before being assimilated into the cyclical web of sound and then vanishing completely, replaced with a hushed piano/vocal/FX coda. Monica Vacas shines here, gently delivering her luxurious Asturian vocals (a language spoken in the north-western area of Spain), which perfectly complement the ambient atmosphere, similar in feel to the Brian and Roger Eno composition Always Returning from 'Apollo'. The shorter of the two pieces, A Cielu Abiertu, begins effortlessly from the tail-end of the previous, offering a similar mood of intertwined synthesiser and electric piano melodies, from which a starkly picked acoustic guitar pattern emerges. Vacas' fragile voice is supported by this simple folk melody, as electronics purr on the horizon. This second work is more folk oriented than its counterpart, but has more in common with Popol Vuh's beautiful soundtracks for Werner Herzog's 'Aguirre: Wrath of God' and 'Nosferatu' as a whole. A bizarre, yet effective combination of synth drones and tuba ushers in an ethereal vibraphone which is threatened to be swamped at any moment by a hovering and reverberating Hammond organ chord. Then, after a few spoken words, the whole enterprise dissolves in a gentle, crackling hiss of feedback and rain. Mus generate a restrained and spacious sound that permeates the whole of 'Aida', creating a tranquil, yet engaging, album that urges repeated listening.

Simon Berkovitch
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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