Israel M: Nareah

Nareah finds Israel M (Abolipop co-founder Israel Martinez) acting as tour guide for an excursion through a “psycho-acoustic” desert. The Mexico-born Martinez began producing computer-based music in 2002 and received a 2007 Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for his “Mi vida” piece, which explores the topic of car abuse in countries like Mexico and the US . His first solo full-length, Nareah, is a five-part exercise in textural sound-sculpting that Martinez assembled using field recordings and synthesized and sampled instruments. A strong geophysical dimension pervades the material to a greater degree than most recordings of its kind. Listening to the material, it's easy to imagine oneself located at some Middle Eastern desert camp where the surrounding lands and villages have been ravaged by war.

Nareah begins with two short pieces, the second of which, “Lirbha,” features metallic needles that swirl in Chain Reaction-like manner alongside the simmer of softer percussive sounds. Being the most encompassing of the album's tracks and the most far-reaching too, the sixteen-minute “Mitah” is Nareah's centerpiece in more ways than one. Echoing piano chords tinkle and cascade, machinery whirrs, and eruptions sweep across the barren landscape. Footsteps, speaking voices (from “ Del olvido al no me acuerdo,” a documentary by Juan Carlos Rulfo), and crickets are heard, suggesting the peaceful aftermath at night. Adding to the unsettling ambiance are synthetic string tones that bend and warp, and an aggressive industrial drone episode that dominates the track's closing minutes. Perhaps anticipating the crisis to come, somber musical elements and themes are annihilated by a seething windstorm in “Dunhia” but it eventually moves on, allowing the city to again rise, judging by the multitude of bird, duck, water, traffic, voices, and pedestrian sounds that emerges in the storm's wake. A less violent and more static-laden cloud rolls through “Riaiah” (which includes a sample from Luciano Berio's “Wasserklavier”), swallowing much in its path, after which “Hima” ends the album with a two-minute drone of rippling textures. The release is tailor-made for listeners with an appetite for transporting set-pieces of a geo-psychic character.

June 2009