Federico Durand – Jardín de invierno (SPEKK, 2016)


Durand’s “Winter Garden”, though recorded in the past, is set in a world just a few months away from now; Autumn is here in full force but it won’t be long before we return to the season that is spelled out with such longing here. Unlike the dreamy reminiscences of A Través Del Espejo found earlier this year, Jardín de invierno is cool, collected and most certainly fixed in place and time.

Like Espejo however, the record documents in snapshots, each track a very deliberate and specific part of the collective whole and with its own distinct impression. Winter would never be without dreams of Summer for instance, and opener “Lilium” takes us there immediately; as eyes cast over empty flowerbeds where lilies once bloomed we hear the echoes of their transient, seasonal beauty in the frozen tinklings and crystalline refractions, a memory of prettiness. That sense of perihelial warmth is present in precious few other places here, but most notably in “Azahar” as it traces a deep sense of nostalgia and longing for light in its crooning synth passages, its radiant glow veiled, a dream of Sun and bloom.

The closest vestige of Summer we have lies in “Ver a través del follaje”, see through the foliage. Its softly patterned repetitions hum and flicker with the slow likeness of scenes glimpsed through leaves, light finding passage through a canopy in brief bursts, this echo of energy and life still present in the evergreens of a system at its nadir.

Winter isn’t looked down upon by any means though, actually its cold calm is wholeheartedly embraced as we lose ourselves in its stillness. “Figuritas de jade” welcomes the rain pouring over our little patch, windows muffling the sound as we gaze upon our little jade watchers outside, water tracing down their resilient forms, quietly and serenely resisting the elements of another day whilst we hide indoors. The rainy afternoon of “Tarde de iluvia” continues that isolation and separation of inside and without, the downpour diluted to little more than tape hiss, its xylophonic twinklings hovering on the cusp of melancholia as we wait impatiently for the temperature to rise for the water to be cooling rather than chilling.

The standout moments here though are where Durand falls deepest into Ambient Drone territory, stripping back and losing us in true reductive abstraction. “Un gran bosque rodea el monoblock” engulfs us in isolation, its edges bristling with the trees of its namesake, a defensive barrier that shelters us from the elements, stalling the air within our reserved space and generating the hauntingly fragile drone suspensions within. Still, quiet and cold air hang here, suppressing life temporarily but offering a moment of reprieve and introspection in return.

But it’s the closer of “Las sierras se disuelven entre las nubes”, saws dissolve the clouds, that immerses us the deepest. Rich, luxurious drone textures and tape hiss fill the space, bringing with them a sense of disquiet and tenseness as they threaten to become undone, Winter afraid of its slipping grasp and a certain melancholia in its imminent loss despite the desire, the need, for Sun. Although we often find its arrival difficult, we will mourn its calm simplicity when Spring’s chaotic busyness arrives again.