Maud the Moth + Trajedesaliva – Bordando el manto terrestre Review

Unquestionably I spend most of my listening time browsing this site’s namesake aesthetic, but I also enjoy sticking my nose elsewhere to try to catch a whiff of what else may inspire that same special beauty in ugliness I desire. Though the Maud the Moth (Amaya López-Carromero also of healthyliving) side has a metallic line to the pleading halls of Scotland’s Ashenspire, Trajedesaliva (the duo of Mon Ninguén on synths and unavena on voice) hosts no such connection, living in their own experimental electronic ambient world. United in production and additional soundscape work by fellow Ashenspire album Scott McLean (healthyliving, Falloch) this amalgamated Maud the Moth + Trajedesaliva (henceforth MtM+T) draws mutual inspiration for Bordando el manto terrestre. In the absence of riff, kick, pig squeal, or raised horns, can you still find your way with this experimental endeavor?

To add another layer of inaccessibility, Bordando el manto terrestre functions as an interpretive exercise for the life and works of Spanish-born, Mexican painter Remedios Varo. Though constructed as a distillation of her surrealist ideas and artwork,1 Bordando displays plenty of musicality in its own right—a dark atmosphere crafted by hissing, oscillating synth lines and the resulting layered swells. Walking down the darkwave-draped halls stained by moody ambient tunes, a gothic nature pervades the draw of MtM+T, while an existential lust defines its melodies. The threat of reality is fleeting throughout Bordando—the chamber music creaking of “Perdie pie,” the harpsichord-esque teetering of “Habitantes del desgarro,” the gentle acoustic strumming of “Perla”—only to be washed away by heavy sawed, ominously pulsing machine sputters. The slow and trembling beat of your own heart provides the rhythm.

If you’re still reading and curious, MtM+T fill Bordando with swaying vocal arrangements that both sooth the ears and tell a story. López-Carromero’s full and classically angelic voice—reminding me often of the celebrated Lila Downs—provides a hymnal reverence that shimmers against the buzzing and whirring gaze of “Jardincito de rosa y tierra” and “Perla” setting the stage for unavena’s breathy and inquiring poetic asides. On pieces that lead with a narrative, unavena initiates to navigate Varo’s ideas of transformation—both the fantastical tale of a human-to-cat transmutation (“Cuerpo de gato”) and the very real changes we can imbue in ourselves to better the world (“Circulo roto”). Regardless of whose style you find more engaging in context (or whether the all Spanish language lyrics land with you), MtM+T’s most gripping vocal highlights build around lines that appear in increasing layers and volume swells (“Habitantes…,” “Hilos de fantasia”). In the absence of traditional song structure, MtM+T shines a strangely tinted light.

But in Bordando’s atypical arrangements—inspired in their own way—rests a lack of diversity in structure. To overcome the predictable and gentle waves of dreamy choir to hazy recitations, MtM+T intersplices found sounds at key moments to maintain a natural passage of time. “Perdie pie” sets the stage with a swirling path and white noise crackle that fades with a cry that resembles a warbling bird or chattering dolphin.2 Thuds and footsteps lay cobblestone between other hallucinations (“Jardincito…,” “Habitantes…”), while other avian sounds (flies on “Fruta alrededor de una vela,” planes on “Hilos…”) pan between channels to startle and steer. Though these small touches don’t read like much, their absence makes a huge impact on the shortest track “Cuerpo de gato,” which feels unending in its cyclical synth pawing. Where’s the purr?

To no one’s surprise, this journey can feel a bit placid, but even still there’s an art to unwinding—an art Maud the Moth + Trajedesaliva have stitched and studied. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a quiet Saturday at the steadfastly curated displays of a contemporary art museum or liberal arts college assembly, Bordando el manto terrestre can easily exist as a deluxe audio tour for Varo’s oblique and evasive works. Or if you’re looking for a more contemplative and abstract pairing to last year’s equally pensive but distinctly urban Forest City by Maria Chiara Argirò, Bordando el manto terrestre again can fill the niche proudly. Maud the Moth + Trajedesaliva’s highly specific mood can seem intimidating, but when I close my eyes, I can’t help but hear its peculiar hum in the distance.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Time Released Sound | Woodford Halse
Releases Worldwide: May 26th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The promo even comes with a 20 page pdf with some biographical information and artwork that inspired each piece.
  2. Does this count as bribery? I think not.
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