(little) shop



Twenty Hertz 017 . 2007

Madrid-based soundmaker Miguel Ángel Tolosa, aka Ubeboet, has surely found a perfect home for this 9-track, 39-minute work. While the previous releases of his I listened to were more field recording-oriented, "Spectra" is definitely a drone thing, and a kind of natural twin to Twenty Hertz owner Paul Bradley's more melodic production. As the opening track "Premia Lucis" suggests from its very title, the album, unlike most drone releases, seems to be bathed in sunlight - possibly the kind of light you get from a stained glass window in a cathedral, with some occasional meridian demon as well. But as a whole, this is an ecstatic and peaceful soundscape, full of expanding high-end tones, occasionally streaked by some discrete field recording (footsteps, the ubiquitous rain...) - the liner notes inform us that "fm radio, tape recorder, lap steel guitar and laptop" were used, but I doubt you can recognize those, except for some string bowing in "Corridor". The ethereal feeling reminded me of Bradley's "Sketches from Dust", "Liquid Sunset" or "Anamnesis", and, staying in the Twenty Hertz catalogue, of Keith Berry's "A Strange Feather"... all of which are good examples of serene, no-new age ambient music.

(eugenio maggi, chain d.l.k.)

Con-V label head Miguel Angel Tolosa here conjures a series of beguiling and palatial ambient tone pieces. Gracefully unfurling sounds form a billowing tapestry upon which Tolosa gradually and patiently constructs his breathy and disconcerting soundscapes. At a cursory glance it's easy to dismiss these pieces as being slightly insubstantial but listeners willing to take the time and effort to immerse themselves in the pool of sound will find layers and nuances to absorb and explore.

(ian holloway, wonderful wooden reasons)

Working under the Ubeboet moniker, Miguel A.Tolosa is a Spanish composer who creates beautifully layered soundscapes able to lighten up physical tensions during those moments in which our mind doesn't want to accept the privileges of tranquillity. "Spectra" was made with field recordings, FM radio, tape recorder, lap steel guitar and laptop, yet often sounds like some sort of religious elegy, and I'm pretty sure that vocal sources are present in those tapes - if they aren't, kudos to the author for having my brain figuring them. Nine tracks whose levity meshes in excellent combinations with strokes from an unearthly kind of inspiration, so that everything appears as perennially suspended in a grey mist, but still very visible. A distant reference point could be found in Robert Rich's earlier output; nevertheless, Tolosa owns a personal style which overcomes any possible comparison. By showing austerity even through its most arcane conceptions, Ubeboet's music easily defends its luminous spot in the overcrowded field of ambient electronica, blessed as it is by a peculiar grace that separates it from the commonplace mass. "Spectra" is not really an album that you could call "innovative"; it's a very honest one, though, and that counts more than anything else in the final judgement.

(massimo ricci, touching extremes)

While I was listening to “duae”, the recent collaboration of Miguel Tolosa (aka ubeboet) and Pablo Reche, a big truck pulled up beside my window in a usually agreeably quiet sidestreet and left its big diesel engine running for almost an hour. For some strange coincidence, the exact same thing happened while I was enjoying “spectra”. Only this time around, I could continue listening.

The reason is simple: On his latest release, Tolosa has left the fields of silence he usually ploughs with his tasteful con-v label and has all but severed the connection with the “lower case” movement he has been one of the main proponents of. The future will tell whether or not this is a longterm artistic decision or an occasional excursion, but on “spectra”, he is closer to the music of Twenty Hertz boss Paul Bradley than ever before – a convergence which has been made even clearer by Bradley’s recent output, which wasn’t only warmer than any of his previous releases, but also more concise and compact. On a casual listen, this truly sounds like a work of pure drones, smooth, sustained tones glistening in the sunshine and of careful hands delicately turning some knobs with glace kid gloves. Almost exclusively around the four minute mark, the pieces don’t build up or run through too much of a development, but appear to be impressions, postcards which the eye gazes over in search for details, only to be put aside with a smile after a short while. Just like with postcards, however, it is always a wise thought to read the text on the back. And the information printed in the booklet indeed gives a twist to the first impression, revealing that the material was realised using “field recordings, fm radio, tape recorder, lap steel guitar and laptop”. So I gave things a second and third spin and, yes, there were the rough edges, minute impurities and additions to the clarity of the basic colours: Are those violins? Where did those subtle scratchings come from? What is that rustiling noise? Could that be be a choir in the back? Was this part recorded at a train station? Suddenly, the associations start coming in, opening up new spaces in their wake. Tolosa has managed to award different layers to his compositions and the waking mind will enter them according to its disposition. The more the album progresses, the more it leaves the halls of angelic beauty and turns towards darker shades of the palette and the more arrangements consist of various parts and movements.

At 38 minutes, it does this in a remarkably short span of time and creates a sensation of fluidity and hardly noticeable, floating changes. It is almost as if the lowercase elements of ubeboet’s previous work have been enriched and connected by a multitude of timbres. Which means that it may not be such a big departure from the original style as it seemed in the first place. Despite its more tangible character, the album still wants to be enjoyed in a silent place. Better wait for that truck to leave after all.

(tobias fischer, tokafi)

‘Music for Winding Mountain Roads’. Such might have been a possible title for this cd, analogously to Brian Eno’s Ambient Music series. For one thing, obviously, because in these higher regions one is closer to the heavens. Indeed, this is the first striking characteristic of this music: it’s reflection of, it’s reflection and meditation upon Christian liturgical music of the Middle Ages. Certainly in the first half or so of the cd the mind wanders with the music through a cathedral-like space, an airy, transparent monolith of winding voices, like a glass sculptured entwining of climbers. Mountains transform into clouds, and clouds into mountains; in a mysterious act of transubstantiation the massive stone architecture becomes light and trembling like a flame. (On this note also the cd ends, with the final and perhaps most radical act of transubstantiation of a fire-offering or holocaust.)

It is also because of the way the music itself unfurls, unwinds itself, disperses itself like up curling smoke, which brings to mind the analogy of a winding mountain road. Unveiling and shrouding its sense and direction, it enfolds one in a cloud of unknowing. The past and the future – the road behind, and the road upfront – still (or again) remain a mystery. Creating just the slightest opening, a minute clearance, a window on nothing but the tangential moment itself, alike in the text of the same title this unknowing thus becomes a stepping stone for a primarily experiential mode of perception.

This is not drone music, where the past and future are molded together with the present moment in blazing fire, stone, storm and torrent. This is ambient music, a passage into, or rather through the elements, traversing them in perpetual anticipation of: a perpetual beyond. A plea for metaphysics, metamusics, metabioi; the content of this plea eliciting but a fragrance, a mere tangence (and not even that) of this destined beyond. This fragrance becomes more and more diluted during the course of the cd, losing more and more of its sensual container and taking on more and more the ephemeral structure of an anticipatory modality ‘an sich’ – alike a catholic mass opening up to a vision of Nirvana (actually not so far besides the Byzantine liturgy which may well be the source for these pieces). An amazing work.

(mark pauwen, earlabs)

So far Miguel A. Tolosa, also known as Ubeboet have released a couple of works, mainly through MP3 labels, such as his own Con-V but also Earlabs and Zeromoon. 'Spectra' is a release that might be the first that is produced in any sort of commercial way. Ubeboet's music is not an odd-ball for the Twenty Hertz label, as the nine pieces show a deep interest in digital drones. Usually it's hard to think what went into the production of drone music, but here it's clear that the laptop is at the hard. Around it we find field recordings, FM radio, tape recorder and a lap steel guitar. Soft tinkles occur, embedded in a warm bed of digital insect chirping, moving through high and low ends of the sound spectrum. Nothing new under the microsun, but I must admit that this was quite a nice journey. Maybe it's the small melodies that are used here and there that add just that little bit of extra needed to stand out, in a very positive manner, from the usual suspects in this field. It's an absolutely fine release and hopefully the start of more beautiful things (with, to be honest, some minor changes to make this reviewer happy and see a break with the drone genre).

(frans de waard, vital weekly)