Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Love Is A Stream (Type, 2010)

As I get older, and perhaps also aided by the fact that I live some distance away from my family and birth-city, and travel fairly regularly with work and otherwise, I end up thinking about “home” a lot. The notion of it, what it means conceptually. I’m a flexible and independent person, I could live quite easily in most places so long as I have my stuff and some sense of personal space, and that lead me to believe for a long time that home really was where I am, with my things and my habits, my place.

While in no small part is that untrue, I’m increasingly coming to the realisation that this is not entirely the case. Perhaps even far from it.

Watching my family get older, my younger sister have her first child, my friends settle down and marry, “home” becomes a synonym for familial centrality and the nexus from which people run their lives connected to their loved ones. Space is made home through something bigger than us, and although yes I crave my bed and my kitchen here where I rent and live, somehow even after seven years this place feels transient, this city just a flirtation before going back where I [belong?].

Home is people. Home is home.

When I first heard Love Is A Stream 11ish years ago I thought of it as a wild and tumultuous romance, this smeared palette of prismatic guitar noise that yearned for the pressing of the flesh. To be fair in the likes of doublet “Where I End & You Begin” and “Where You End & I Begin” I still feel that insatiable whirl of longing you get wanted to be so tightly pressed to someone else as to be inside their skin.

They have a drama to them that’s unmatched even today, but aside from a few redolent and heady moments like those much of this record seems to rain down in nebulous clouds of pink scuzz, more an aura or radiance than a demand: indicative I think of how my own views have evolved over the years from (useless, hapless) romantic to seeking connection, stability. What once seemed wild now seems wanting.

The likes of “Loving Love”, “White Dwarf Butterfly” and “River Like Spine” float in pools of rippling static, guitar chords barely bending through the mix as distant and undefined effigies looming from the fog. Unlike much music in this vein they don’t feel wracked or wrought, rather they hum like pylons in damp air, bristling with this localised energy, carrying it towards us from the hub.

Opener “Stained Glass Body” sets this aesthetic early, also including the distant vocals that recur elsewhere on the album, angelic echoes that croon softly as siren calls, wafting us innocently, gently, back to their source. And when the clarity slider rolls across in penultimate “Wild Moon and Sea” and the air clears through to the reverberant chords previously buried, we get to stare straight at the diamantine heart of our dreams.

If love is a stream then home is the spring, the gentle source that becomes a torrent, that catches all the hissing rain and obfuscating mist and takes its essence into the definable. Clear burbling waters emanating from within. Cantu-Ledesma did something here that so rarely happens in music: he caught both some elevated emotional sentiment and the realm of the tentatively (but passionately) physical and brought them into the house they belong in together.