Aries – Juramento Mantarraya

The new album from Aries is called Juramento Mantarraya. Superficially, this is an album of dream pop, leaning back into the late sixties and the era of breezy Beach Boy type progressions. The producer brings a lightness of touch that adds a pastel feel to every element. But wait, there’s more going on.

Aries is the brainchild of Isa Fdes. Reviriego – a Spanish songwriting producer who uses her astrological sign as her moniker. There’s a significant clue as to the type of celestial sounds that are of interest. Also, there’s an element of making constellations from seemingly unrelated phenomenon.

It’s her toying with simplicity, and the layering of effects, and implications, that distinguishes Aries. Driving tempos with from-the-box drum machines, we encounter glitches. Following sweet melodies we’re disrupted by sudden drops of grit and discord. A flute is passed through an unusual, fuzzed treatment. Brass-stabs punctuate a chorus, which smudges into a verse. A vocal track swirls off with no resolve. Playing with the shape of things, Aries plays with expectation.

With track titles like ‘Le major sensaciĆ³n’, ‘Dolce farninente’, ‘Un dia cualquiera’, it’s fair to say that it’s not just ‘things’ that are of interest to Aries. Also under analysis is the way in which we view things. ‘Un gran puente’ is the discussion of how to understand, and span the space between experience, event, perception – and also the thing that keeps us together and apart as people on a planet. It’s simple, but not without depth.

Many moments of the album rely on an otherworldliness – they toy with the surreal, the psychedelic, and the intuitive ability of the artist. Seldom is Aries interested in a hard line. It’s a deeply pleasing moment on the penultimate track, ‘Facts (canciĆ³n a Coki) that the singer claims to draw a boundary. It’s not long before that line is crossed – it was meaningless, almost. An issue of affection is made. The track, at fifty-three seconds long, is the sweetest moment here.

Juramento Mantarraya is an album of note. It’s an enquiring piece of art that learns of its own sentience as the sequence progresses. Easy moments offer up a framework for some more challenging passages in concept and construction. The challenges are never too far from offering reward. Like a genuine psychedelic experience we begin by asking “What shall we say about this?” and we end by asking “What have I become in making myself?” It’s refreshing, unreal, and easy.



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