Federico Durand – Flor Imaginaria (2020)

Flor Imaginaria

There’s an inescapable rhythm to the familiar. When I make the journey back from my family home, a two hour or so drive on a Sunday evening every month or two, nothing about the course of the trip changes. The motorways and A-roads follow the same route, the roundabouts and junctions remain constant, my car is my car. I eat dinner, stick on some music, hit cruise control and drive home. Simple. I could do it with my eyes closed.

It’s tempting to think of these trips as banal, habitual, perhaps even ritualistic, and that there is a static quality about them. Even in the habitual, however, there is flexibility and variance. I can watch the landscape change in discrete seasonal timesteps; follow the Sun’s trend in the sky over the year; pass through every meteorological condition. And there is space for rumination too, opportunity to think about the working week ahead, the moments from the weekend past, of the comings and goings of this world that push and pull me about.

No, each drive is not the same, far from it. The blueprint of the journey’s path is lain down in constancy, but what transpires during it – and my state throughout it – is far from set in stone.

The tape loops of Flor Imaginaria have a similarly variant quality to them: idiosyncratic lyre pickings and synth chords spin delicately in their matrix of tape cassette fuzz, and while mostly consistent, each turn seems slightly different. An emphasis on this note here, a new layer there, a slight stutter now. The fundamental pieces are always there, but their assembly never seems to quite fall together in the same way.

The title track is the lowlier of the two sides, its general demeanour melancholic and slow. The loop sections are clearly delineated, quanta of thought and feeling each in their own cell and with the notes often carefully placed so as to not intrude on one another. Mostly it feels content in just dibbling along, entertaining its tentative unhappiness so gently suspended, so easily broken at any moment.

Side B and “Viaje en globo a tierras lejanas” see the other side of the coin. The instrumentation is still there, still looping, still based from the same basic structure, but a subtle shift elevates the mood and sets its soul free. Arpeggiated lyre tickles away in the interstitial spaces, fluttery and mobile and filled with lightness. Equally as mesmerising as its predecessor, its transition to freedom and airy twinklings is nonetheless a welcome counterpoint.

It’s easy to get lulled into a sense of staleness in the familiar, the perception that the habitual is tied to specific actions, specific feelings, and that it must always be so. Pay closer attention, however, and the reality of its nuance becomes obvious: Flor Imaginaria¬†is a sensitive record that realises the state of fluctuation in its condition, and embraces it as such.