A Cloud Mireya: Singular
Eastern Developments

Singular, the full-length fruit of a new collaboration between Guillermo S. Herren and Claudia Deheza under the name A Cloud Mireya, is a major improvement upon Herren's last Prefuse 73 outing Security Screenings. Singular is a considerably more focused release by comparison, and constrained too, though the word shouldn't be interpreted pejoratively but instead to mean disciplined. Having contributed much of the album's instrumental backing and production, Herren isn't a background figure by any means, but the strength and appeal of Deheza's singing swings the spotlight in her direction every time she opens her mouth (at times, the two combine their contrasting voices to pleasing effect); Herren generally avoids cluttering the backings, opting instead for a polished yet still electronically-enhanced sound. Deheza's voice is hardly unfamiliar, by the way, as Prefuse fans already heard her alone and alongside twin sister Alejandra on Surrounded by Silence. Deheza's clear warble elevates the laconic, vaguely psychedelicized “Those Nights,” lending it a casual grandeur, and glides effortlessly through the placid textures of “Illusional.” The dreamy “Wasted Time” in particular shows off the natural beauty of her voice.

An obvious parallel arises between Savath + Savalas and A Cloud Mireya with the vocal chair formerly assumed by S+S chanteuse Eva Puyuelo Muns now occupied by Deheza. There are similarities—the groups' similarly lush ambiance, for starters—but the groups are stylistically different, with A Cloud Mireya less dedicated to a singular genre even if its sound remains cosmopolitan in feel. Any discussion of the release would be incomplete without mention of the 12-minute “Bliss Inseclusion,” less a singular, slowly developing composition than a series of bridging vocal and instrumental episodes (spacey post-rock splashes alternating with snake-pits of guitar snarl and early morning vocal dreaminess)—an ambitious experiment, certainly, but one that occasionally teeters on self-indulgence and misses the clear-headed focus of the shorter pieces. Significantly, though it signifies a recovery from Security Screenings, Singular is at its most effective whenever Herren exercises a greater degree of restraint.

November 2006