Federico Durand: La estrella dormida
Buenos Aires-based sound artist Federico Durand sets the tone for his La estrella dormida (The Sleeping Star) with a liner note that reads, in part: “Sometimes at dusk, from the train window, I can see the first star in the sky. Its light is a company that stays by my side during the travel until it gets dark. Then, like a magical presence, the stars, with its shining melody, invite me to dream. La estrella dormida ... is an album to listen to at sunset, during that moment when the sky changes its colour and houses and gardens turn pink, silent, and musical at the same time.” Such words provide a perfect entry-point for the forty-two-minute release, given that their evocative, dream-like tone form a natural complement to the ten settings.
If the music is characterized by one thing in particular, it's intimacy: not only is the listener made to feel as if he/she has been granted access to Durand's inner world, the recording and its “small melodies” were created by him alone using piano, E-bow, analogue synthesizer, music boxes, cassette-tape loops, crystal glasses, and assorted other “tiny things.” There's a hazy quality to the production and a relaxed feel, too, both of which suggest that La estrella dormida was recorded in the comfort of Durand's home.
The pieces themselves are less songs than ambient soundscaping vignettes sprinkled with microsound textures and melodic fragments. Each piece drifts placidly along for two to six minutes at a time, with delicate, fluttering breaths of piano, bells, guitar, and synth tones draped across the tracks' gently undulating surfaces. Perhaps none of the pieces is lovelier than “Reflejos del sol en la superficie del agua,” a twilight ambient serenade that unfolds with a finely calibrated grace, while the one that's most dream-like is “El sueño de Fabergé” for featuring so prominently the bell-like warble of the music box.
Anyone acquainted with the White Paddy Mountain releases issued prior to Durand's will identify La estrella dormida right away as a natural member of that particular club, given that the albums Chihei Hatakeyama has released on his label to date have all shared a stylistic concern for understated ambient soundsculpting.