Tarta Relena — „Fiat Lux“ (Dec. 17, 2021)

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•ς•  První vteřina „Stabat mater“ čtvrté skladby katalánského dua Tarta Relena Fiat Lux, je okamžikem tak nepolapitelné a iluzorní krásy, že si přejete, aby trvala věčně. Není okamžitě zřejmé, co je to průsvitný a plovoucí zvuk, nebo zda to vaše sluchátka mohou dlouho hrát. Ale když se zvuk po krátkém výbuchu vokálů opakuje, hlasy Heleny Ros a Marty Torrell se spojí v dokonalé harmonii, mince padá a udělá cink: Tarta Relena z ní udělala charakteristický znak a přeměnila to, co většina zpěváků považuje za hudebně vedlejší produkt do strhujícího vyvrcholení jejich velmi přínosného debutového alba.
•ς•  Debutové album katalánského dua čerpající ze středomořského folku, gruzínských nářků a mystiky 12. století Hildegard von Bingen je hudebně jedinečné, ale emocionálně známé. Možná největším úspěchem Tarty Releny na tomto strhujícím albu je to, že jejich práce zní hudebně jedinečně i emocionálně povědomě, procházejí staletími tradice a geografickými předěly, aby se spojili na lidské úrovni, jako staroegyptský lék na kocovinu nebo hrubý sumerský vtip. Fiat Lux působí nadčasově, je to do detailu propracované dílo archeologického dobrodružství, kde vykopané emoce sahají hluboko. Resumé: dva hlasy, putující staletími tradice hledající cykličnost a stálost. Mystika, vokální textury a elektronické beaty.Tarta Relena — „Fiat Lux“: Helena Ros a Marta Torrell
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Album release: Dec. 17, 2021
Record Label: La Castanya/The Indian Runners
Duration:     31:08
01. El suïcidi i el cant   4:03
02. Tu ase t’urpa   3:05
03. Esta montanya d’enfrente   2:18
04. Stabat mater   4:45
05. Imperayritz de la ciutat joyosa   2:15
06. Nunc aperuit nobis   2:03
07. Relatable content   2:35
08. Las alamedas   3:41 
09. Safo   3:51
10. Me yelassan   2:32

by Ben Cardew | DEC. 30 2021 | Score: 8.0
The first second of “Stabat mater,” track four on Catalan duo Tarta Relena’s Fiat Lux, is a moment of such elusive, illusory beauty that you wish it could go on forever. It’s not immediately obvious what the diaphanous, fluttering sound is, or if your headphones might be playing up. But when the sound is repeated after a brief flurry of vocals, Helena Ros and Marta Torrella’s voices united in immaculate harmony, the penny drops: Tarta Relena have made a feature out of their breathing, converting what most singers regard as a musical by~product into a captivating highlight of their highly rewarding debut album.
This attention to detail is typical of Tarta Relena, if we can say anything is typical of two musicians who once dubbed their music “progressive Gregorian” and who tackle everything from traditional Georgian song to a composition by 12th century Benedictine abbess Hildegard von Bingen on Fiat Lux. Throughout their small but impeccable catalog, Tarta Relena have exercised exquisite control over their music, in both the refined telepathy of their vocal synthesis and the sparse musical touches that accompany it. Fiat Lux is an album where every breath counts and every note is precisely deployed, the duo’s voices supported by a fine~spun mesh of electronic touches and hairline effects from producers Juan Luis Batalla and Òscar Garrobé.
“El suïcidi i el cant” employs a cavernous electronic bass for exactly four notes at the song’s halfway mark, their perfectly weighted melodrama forewarning a turn in the song’s emotional heft, like dark clouds briefly blotting out the sun. The song’s second half sounds positively furious, Ros and Torrella’s vocals filled with the volcanic anger that the bass foretold. “Esta montanya d’enfrente,” similarly, uses the faintest puff of electronic sound, a ringing in the ears of the song’s background, to add texture to the duo’s gorgeous vocal coupling, edging this traditional Sephardic song into the 21st century on the finest of musical beds.
Tarta Relena’s arcane choice of material might make their music appear dry or academic, the work of librarians and archivists rather than poets and provocateurs. But a fast~beating heart runs through the record, and the ultimate payoff is a sly pop edge that is more evident on Fiat Lux than in the duo’s previous work. “Me yelassan,” the traditional Greek song that closes the record, edges its way into a hand~clapping beat that plays off swinging drums and bass like a Rosalía hit, or the Diwali riddim that dominated dancehall in the early 2000s. “El suïcidi i el cant” is an adaptation of traditional poetry by Pashtun women from Afghanistan and colored by the “terrible August” of 2021, when Taliban forces took control of the country. But the song’s wildly catchy melody is underpinned by a scuttling electronic beat that brings it to the edge of pop music, even as the song spins its searing musical tale. There is even a touch of self~effacing humor in the title of “Relatable content,” a wordless sonic interlude that leads into the record’s final stretch.
Perhaps Tarta Relena’s greatest achievement on this gripping album is that their work sounds both musically unique and emotionally familiar, reaching through centuries of tradition and geographical divide to connect on a human level, like an ancient Egyptian hangover cure or a crude Sumerian joke. Fiat Lux feels timeless, a finely detailed work of archeological adventure, where the emotions excavated run deep.
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