Federico Durand & hofli: Niebla y jardines tomados por las plantas

This cross-cultural collaboration between Argentinean Federico Durand (12k, Home Normal) and Japanese artist Tsuda Takashi (aka hofli) is pretty much what you might expect when two such kindred sound colourists pool their talents. A close relationship developed between them during a 2017 Japan tour, which naturally continued after its completion with file exchanges and eventually a formal release. Each sent field recordings to the other, after which other instruments were added and processing applied. Though track titles suggest individual authorship—Durand for “Los siete cabritos” and Takashi for “You have dreamed of me playing in your garden during siesta,” for example—the album establishes a unified impression due to the involvement of both on all ten productions.

Bucolic worlds are evoked by the material, ones populated by sounds of humming insects, chirping birds, tinkling chimes, barking dogs, domestic activity, and the occasional intrusion of industrial elements, traffic noise and the like, into the home environment. Peace and harmony reign, and anything of a sinister nature inhabits far distant realms. True to its title, “Into a dream garden” murmurs softly, its hushed tones redolent of the revitalizing calm deep slumber brings. The real world intrudes upon its ethereal splendour in the subsequent setting, “Lavanda,” when a woodpecker's knock and bird chatter join hushed, drifting synth tones, while “Last night I was a cat in your garden” sees an infant splashing water at bath-time as a string instrument plucks simple patterns by way of accompaniment.

There are times when the real-world sounds retreat and a more celestial design emerges (see the softly glistening “Menta” and ambient-drone “Jazmin del pais”), but for the most part Niebla y jardines tomados por las plantas presents pretty panoramas, ambient concoctions as rich in detail as the lovely cover image and inner three-panel painting fuuyamn fashioned for the release; that he appeared with Durand and Takashi on their Japan tour as a live painter says much about the kind of creative, explorative sensibilities involved in the project.

December 2017