Enough Records, 2014
Review by Kent Manthie
This lovely four song album, an eponymous EP by the Portuguese band Aires, is a beautifully, lifting sort of work. It consists of the first two tracks: a sort of “suite” – tracks one and two are made up of two different “Organico”s – #1 is “Organico I – Vozes Sem Corpo” and track #2 is “Organico II – Monolitico”. This is followed by a bridge-like work of only a minute, called “Isosceles” which then brings us into the finale, “Controplacado”.
Alas, I can’t say that I’m expert in Portugal. All I know for sure is that two countries continue, today, to have Portuguese as their national language: Portugal and Brazil, the latter of which is immense. It is sort of like comparing Tennessee, representing the size of Portugal and the United States as a whole, representing the size of Brazil – maybe not the perfect complement, but as close of one of which I could guess.
Anyway, this is an all-instrumental EP, 30 minutes in length and it is filled with a colorful beauty, that can evoke images in one’s mind of a pre-Renaissance Iberian Peninsula colonial power, who, at one point rivaled the Dutch and their neighbor, Spain, in worldwide influence and possessions. Nowadays, sadly, all that is left of the Portuguese grandeur is the gem in the Portuguese crown, that is, outside of the home country: Brazil, with its majestic rainforests, Amazon River, endless jungle, a veritable life-sized petri dish of myriad species, many, I’m sure, still unknown to us imperfect humans, no matter how hard Darwin worked to search and catalog so many flora and fauna. I don’t think any one man or even any army of men can ever completely catalog the absolute richness that inhabits the totality of the globe – which includes, in fact, takes up most of the earth, the enveloping oceans, that, for simplicity’s sake, humans have split into four or five, depending on how you classify them (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and the Southern Ocean, which really is an ocean unto itself, a sea that is below both the Pacific and the Atlantic, with its own currents and winds which feed unto and out of the Antarctic continent. That itself is a fascinating, and tempting as it may be to do, endless source of wonder for study and meditation on.
But I get carried away here. With these four, somewhat simple tracks, which, by themselves may not contribute all the answers, the whole of it is a wondrous and endless cycle of a day-in-the-life of a 13th century peasant, living on the edge of Iberia. Far from Gaul, south, too far south, from Briton and its isles, the only connection it can have to outside would be the neighbor to its immediate north – Spain. Also, below is a boatride away from the northern tip of a world which is as different from Europe as night is from day and from where, much trade, migration and communication could’ve certainly existed. What then, is the mystery of Iberia? Does Portugal belong to Europe proper? Or is it the mystical gateway to North Africa, where the magic never ceases? These are questions one can’t really answer, at least not in this review. I am only letting you know from where I come vis a vis this mysterious album, the richness of its sound, the atmosphere that it carries with it and the drift that has come into it from who-knows-where.
I am surely making up my own fantasy as to the motive(s) of the band and as to how they came up with their ambient, musical eddy. But I never thought imagination could be assailed as “wrong”, since I make no claim as to the true origin of Aires. I suppose that is something better taken up by psychologists. What would Jung say? Am I transferring what I’ve heard and absorbed from Aires to my limitless mind and am I writing a narrative to fit what this “chill-out”, ambient wave of stillness and the anxiolytic properties in which it breathes?
One can only wonder what was in the minds of the musicians themselves as they put together this work. Since I had no chance to speak with them or connect with them via email, etc. I can only say what I was able to feel and how the music connected with me.
Of course, as I try to make it known again and again, comments and/or feedback are not only welcomed but encouraged – by readers, fans, about whose band or singer I may be writing about or even the artists/bands themselves if they feel they’d like to offer up their own side or add something that was missed the first time around. Feel free to enlighten us! In the meantime, my best suggestion is to search for Aires on http://www.archive.org where you can download this for free(!) or search out Enough Records and find out what you can about their organization and get a foothold onto Aires.
For now, just close your eyes, sit back and let the music wash over you as you meditate an answer as to how deep it really goes. -KM.