The piston-smooth stroke of Esplendor Geometrico is immediately attractive, an industrial steampunk Charlie Chaplin might have made out of the factory machines in Modern Times if he´d been able to cope rather than been driven insane. Naming themselves after an essay by futurist guru Marinetti, however,
may point out the utopianism of that notion – around the same time Chaplin filmed, Marinetti´s machine love lost him his perspective on humanity.
No such miss on Ultraphoon. Esplendor Geometrico has been at it so long, the duo is rightly recognized as pioneering, and there is no cruelty here – industrial with a human face, perhaps, remarkably subtle for something so loud. The band´s history stretches over thirty years back in time (to when it was a trio) and Geometrik has been its Madrid-based home since 1989. Arturo Lanz and Saverio Evangelista mercilessly pound out outsize beats atop which tinier, bacillary ones dance like raindrops on a snare drum. At the same time, they weave melody into the mix, almost subliminally.
Often looping speech (already histrionic, as on “Bucle 1”) or twisted into a grotesquerie (“Granta”, “Bombotó”, “Mendé”), they cultivate the beauty in the beast of the beat, which while never letting up always varies – rarely have so many interesting timbres and pitches been thrashed out on a single, hour-long record. Brian Eno has famously stated that computers could use a little more Africa in them, and the same could be said about garden-variety industrial music. Ultraphoon delivers, most literally on “Bululú” and “Mitambo”, but throughout as it manages to sound machine-made and handcrafted at the same time. Clearing the air of any unnecessary contagions, so that the full force of Esplendor Geometrico´s own benevolent pathogens may spread freely, master minimalist Francisco López has mixed and mastered the album with incisiveness.