Jason Kao Hwang

Federico Albanese
Autistici & Justin Varis
Matt Bartram
Vitaly Beskrovny
Patrick Castillo
Matt Davignon
Forrest Fang
Alejandro Franov
Karen Gottlieb
Mark Harris
Jason Kao Hwang
C Joynes / Nick Davis
GX Jupitter-Larsen
Lowe & Kalma
Lorenzo Masotto
Kazuya Matsumoto
Martin McCain
Paranoid Winter
Michael Robinson
Erika Tazawa
Vittoria Fleet
Daniel Wohl

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
20 Years Henry St. Music
Future Disco Vol 9

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Alter Echo & E3
Gordon Beeferman
Tevo Howard
Qasim Naqvi
North Atlantic Drift
Nils Quak
Andy Skopes / Denial

Alejandro Franov: Rio
Nature Bliss

Rio's a relaxed collection that probably will appeal to Alejandro Franov's existing fan base more than anyone else. It's not a new recording but rather a re-issue of the Argentinean experimental musician's 2003, long-out-of-print third album, which is being made available again thanks to Tokyo-based Nature Bliss. All eleven songs were composed and performed by Franov, the multi-instrumentalist credited with vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, sitar, electric bass, programming, and keyboards, and an occasional field recording surfaces at times to strengthen the home-made feel.

Though Rio begins with a wobbly, electronica-styled instrumental (the opening section of “Dormida,” it turns out) that would do any number of synthesizer space cadets proud, the recording is largely vocal-based. While a languorous tempo and sitar embellishments lend the second half of “Dormida” a dazed and trippy feel, Franov's singing nudges the music in a slightly tropical, even Brazilian direction. It's not the only place such a vibe asserts itself: with acoustic guitar picking and light hand percussion accents accompanying the vocal, “Danza al sol” exudes a similarly breezy, South American character.

Instrumentally, the material isn't without appeal, especially when Franov freely mixes acoustic and electronic elements together. It's not uncommon, for example, to hear a thumb piano and synthesizer or acoustic guitar and electronics appear side-by-side, and the swarm of electric guitars in “Amaneceres” certainly proves ear-catching. How one feels about his voice, on the other hand, will probably determine how one feels about the album in general. I'm of two minds: on the one hand, his singing sometimes strikes me as underwhelming, even weak for being so so subdued and laid-back; on the other, vocalizing of such home-made character possesses a certain charm for being so personal and intimate.

February 2016