The Phonometrician is Mexico City based musician Carlos Morales, and Cóiste Bodhar is his second album for Lost Tribe Sound.
With minimal ingredients the tone is sombre, somewhat melancholy – and definitely reflective. It’s music that makes you feel alone, music for wide open spaces, for late night, possibly for being alone in wide open spaces at night. What’s most striking is the pacing. He’s in no hurry, there doesn’t feel like any pressure to move the pieces forward, to get anywhere, to change.
These elongated expanses of pastoral acoustic guitar fall somewhere between classical guitar music, American minimalism, and evocative desert twang. In a sense its durational, which is weird to say given the relatively short track times, but the impact comes from the decision to hold the course, the long cyclical guitar melodies, the repetition, the sameness is somehow intoxicating, somehow ritualistic. The music overwhelms us and we feel powerless to do anything but move with it.
Morales uses acoustic guitar, a Venezuelan cuatro, and synths, however he’s using synths in very understated and strange ways, having them gurgle, squeal and moan like wild animals in the distance, or creating a subtle bottom end drone behind his gentle strings.
The album title, Cóiste Bodhar comes from a Celtic folk tale about a Death Coach, that if you encountered warned of imminent death to either oneself or that of a close relative. Morales was also inspired by the 1921 Swedish silent film, The Phantom Carriage, directed by Victor Sjöström, where the last person to die that year had to drive Death’s carriage and collect the souls of everyone who dies in the coming year.
Perhaps this is where the cadence comes from, Morales’ metronomic stomps echoing the journey of the carriage into the afterlife. It also explains the relatively sombre mood and ritualistic feel to the music. Yet there’s also a certain lightness that the acoustic guitars bring and it’s this balance between the elements that makes Cóiste Bodhar such an intoxicating and evocative listen. It’s light and dark, good and evil, a musical dichotomy for the soul that is absolutely bewitching. I’m sure this is the music that’s piped through death’s carriage. Or it will be now.