A.MAIAH is the nom-de-music of guitarist-composer Asier Pérez Basterra. Previously featured on aJN’s 12-ish Guitar (and-only-guitar) Albums In The Last 12 Months…, and recently heard on the haunting, improvised twisted blues of RE: ACT with drummer Pablo Mata (Ramble Records), F(r)icciones is A.MAIAH’s latest solo outing. Ostensibly an ‘odds & ends’ release including a number of short projects, this is an enthralling (at times enchanting) collection.
First up is Durangas, a soundtrack for a yet-to-be-released documentary on, “women and heritage, discussing civil war, education, sex or violence in the town of Durango, Basque Country.” The only guitar-free piece, the reverberant voices of the 18-woman choir pulse and soar, chanting, intoning and threatening to overwhelm the ear. It’s simple, powerful, and in the zone between lament, elegy, invitation and implacable protest. It’s a dramatic opener.
Next is an untitled ‘suite’ of short drone/guitar/electronics pieces for a noise convention that never happened. A.MAIAH slices and dices retrograde psych-blues, chopped and blended with different flavours of noise, glitchy electronics, buzzes and drones. Beginning with a heavy hum, faint background rattles are joined by backwards guitar embroidery – a distant howl pushing through the drone. In the next section, bassier, more rounded drones combine with simple evocative guitars; glitchy undertones twitch deep in the stew. Next, juddering electronics loop and buzz while the guitar provides the architecture. The penultimate section sounds like a cavernous manufacturing hall of blurred mechanical processes, scarred by atonal, cut up blues. Finally, a 60s-ish spy theme bassline leads into alternating distorted splashes and glassy, melodic fragments – increasingly dense and swampy, sinking into the distance…
Akatu Akatzaileak has a grainier texture; less drone, more granulated rumble – a roaring avalanche of guitar noise with a sinister edge – accumulating density, less air to breathe, a tension in the chest, distant movement in the depths – paranoid surf music on a storm-borne ocean.
After the ‘noise suite’ and Akatu Akatzaileak, Ranchera Rota is a comparatively (I said ‘comparatively’) gentle comedown. A ‘broken’ ranchera? More of a jittery blues raga to these ears – caffeinated slide guitar, shards of cosmic melody, ringing harmonics, a microtonal mandala. A spiritual touch to finish the collection, perhaps, but a spirit convulsively searching for an exit…
Soundtrack music for an unavailable film, a suite of noise-blues for a festival that never took place… F(r)icciones is music for imaginary/imagined contexts. A handful of sound projects collected like fictional pebbles in a bag, clattering and rubbing together – it’s the sparks from the friction that help make this album such a compelling listen.
A.MAIAH – all instruments/sounds…
…with the exception of the Orfeón de Durango singers:
Irene Lasa Beitia
Mireia Aranzabal Elorza
Tere Elorza Idigoras
Elena Unamunzaga Onagoitia
María Jesús Soldevilla Alzola
Ainhoa García Ereño
Jone Arana Arrinda
Divina Oteiza Totoricagüena
Carmen Rosa Oteiza Totoricagüena
Maite Molina Loriz
María Asunción Canales González de Audicana
Isabel Valmaseda Balanzategui
Martina Pieper Schönenbach
Isa Mintegi Egileor
Amaia Basauri Miota
Itziar Egia Jauregi
Arrate Bañeres de la Torre
F(r)icciones is available from on vinyl or download from Hegoa Records’ Bandcamp page.