Alexandre Navarro – Black Bird (SEM)


Keeping all attached information to a minimum indicates a desire to keep the music front and centre. When you’re the boss of a respected label, as is Alexandre Navarro, that task is more difficult, but the intention is clear. So, the music.

In spite of their brevity, the 3 tracks on this EP are immersive. They fall into the ambient/drone field, but are concerned more with slow repetition than monolithic sound fields. What strikes as most interesting, and the main point of departure for this release from others in a similar vein, is the mix of clearly lo and hi-fi. The kind of hiss associated with the tape underground is very present, along with the narrow focus of that sound in mono. But this is only one element. Also present are canyons of lush reverb, fully utilising the stereo spectrum. It’s highly likely that the mono hiss is generated by the hum of a guitar amplifier as it rests under the ‘musical’ sounds, rather than smeared over the top of them. From there, its almost possible to hear all the sounds as being sourced from the electric guitar, both distorted and clean. Looping and layering is clear, as are backwards swirls of sound, but even the chiming bell-synth sounds are conceivably guitar based. The slow moving, minor key scapes are never pleasant background wash – far to many buzzing and fizzing elements regularly crop up to keep the suite gritty and engaging.

The three tracks are titled simply ‘Part 1’, ‘Part 2’ and ‘Part 3’ and (subtitles of ‘Envol’, ‘Survol’ and ‘Resolution’ notwithstanding) and are a unified suite. The EP is an intriguing blend of minimalism and shifting evocation, raw and refined, anonymous and highly personal.

Adrian Elmer


About Author

Adrian Elmer is a visual artist, graphic designer, label owner, musician, footballer, subbuteo nerd and art teacher, who also loves listening to music. He prefers his own biases to be evident in his review writing because, let's face it, he can't really be objective.