Having been left holding the bag on an irritating sublet situation that is a direct result of Trump’s insane immigration policies—if you know of anyone looking for a sublet in Brooklyn starting in February, holler, for real—I’ve been dealing with a strain of anxiety I still struggle to keep under wraps. Though unlike my twenties, instead of heavy self-medication to deal with the crushing omnipresence of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I now am more overcome by a compulsive need to write and mix, a likely futile resistance against feelings of hopelessness. So yeah, gonna be some ethereal, heavenly jams on the docket for a hot minute.
Maybe it’s due to the announcement of Mark E. Smith’s death yesterday, but I’ve been thinking on my taste in indie rock back when I was very much under the spell of 90s and 00s indie—though if we’re being honest here, I was always more of a post-rock bro. That’s not to say my taste was uncritical as bands like The Fall and My Bloody Valentine would sound great on paper, but never quite did the trick for me. The latter is a particularly curious absence as my taste in so many acts and songs seems to bear the mark of Kevin Shields’ brand of maximalist shoegaze, though not having listened to that much, I could be hearing any number of British indie influences.
Either way, the sound of Shields popped into mind while spending an hour listening to 90s Spanish techno outfit RADIO’s blissful ambient techno cut “Immersion.” Hanging in the back of the smoke-choked background of the mix for the first two minutes is a darling indie-esque guitar riff that comes into glorious foreground at the two-minute mark and I’ll be damned if these Spaniards weren’t borrowing a page or chapter from the MBV playbook. The allusions become far less speculative when the high-end gets busy with a second hook that sounds like someone slowly-quickly strumming a chord so as to hit each of the notes, an angelic bit of brilliance. Soon the initial riff drops out and we’re left with two minutes of the boa constrictor melody hanging ever so precariously over the taut Basic Channel kick and an echo chamber of a low end that soon shoots up and out, threatening to subsume the light whole. Instead, they double down on the heavenly sounds by bringing back in the initial hook but this time it feels much more balanced with the other, the two finally connecting and sending this track to zones unknown.
As for the blokes making this glorious music? Well, "Immersion" is the second cut off El Aire Está Vivo, crafted by the duo of Juan Carlos Ordoñez and Mario Mendoza who released two full-lengths on Stereophonic Elefant Dance Recordings in 1999, the dance-focused sublabel of indie powerhouse Elefant Recordings, and disappeared not soon afterwards. Hell, now that I think about it, the lush and guitar-assisted dance music created by RADIO was likely an all-too-sensible fit for the label, but now I'll have to listen to the whole catalog to verify that hypothesis. Poor me;
Big thanks to Ron Like Hell for delivering this record to my inbox last Friday eve.