Empra Mots

L’Eix are a Catalan ensemble based in Barcelona, consisting of guitarist and sound artist Ferran Fages, electronic music producer and critic Oriol Rosell, and interactive device developer Julià Carboneras. Each of the three members have plenty of other activities on their respective plates — Fages, for example, is one half of the duo Cremaster, and contributed to the recording of John Cage’s “Cartridge Music” recently released by Another Timbre, while Rosell has previously released solo work on Crónica. However, they insist that L’Eix is very much a band in the traditional sense, “a group unit producing songs from an experimental point of view”. Their new album “Empra Mots” comes courtesy of the Audiotalaia label, marking its first foray into physical media after building a solid reputation for its net releases.

Clean, simple acoustic guitar melodies combine with various electronic buzzes, hums and wooshes across the album’s eight tracks, a basic but nonetheless effective formula. At times the interactions between guitar and electronics lack sufficient complexity or subtlety to keep me interested; my favourite track, album closer “Barjaules, Barralers i Enredaires”, is also the most developed in terms of structure and establishing a sense of musical cohesion. However, the general feel is relaxed and playful, reminding me a little of Japanese ensemble Minamo, which is no bad thing at all. Presumably many of the electronic sounds came from devices made by Carboneras; if so, it would have been nice to find out more about them, perhaps through a video included in the gift download.

Wait a minute, “gift download”? Ah yes, this is “Empra Mots”’s secret weapon: though released on CD, the album includes a gift download code for a collection of reworkings entitled “Refet”, in which six different artists take tracks from “Empra Mots” and present their own unique slant on them. There’s a variety of top-notch contributions here, from Kenneth Kirschner’s minimal piano interventions, to Sara Galán (of Cello + Laptop)’s lyrical cello melodies, to Eduard Escoffet’s rhythmically arresting spoken word delivery. Far from being a superfluous add-on, the album of reworks makes a good release even better, especially considering that “Empra Mots” itself is somewhat on the short side. An interesting package, then, and well worth checking out.

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