Crossing the borders into unknown territory can be a daunting, intimidating experience. If you keep the faith, there’s no reason you can’t settle down after the initial acclimatization. As the location differs, so too does the culture and the climate; you may, initially, feel as if you don’t belong. It may take a little while. Vora charts a journey, not just of music but of the spirit, and of new discovery. There are daunting prospects in sight, exciting opportunities in store, but they mingle with an unbalanced mix of emotions, due in part to the heavy loss of leaving home. Home base can suddenly lose its appeal and lose its heart, depending on our moods and the incessant challenges that life throws our way. Music, then, also requires acclimatization. As we experience this emotional duality, so does the music. It’s the same result when the borders of music are crossed.
Music can be influenced by current situations (maybe it’s better to say that the music was already there, just waiting for the moment to surface). A trillion songs testify to the depth of music, and the inner, unbreakable link she has with our own thought processes. An attack of fear or anxiety may produce a frenzied atmosphere or a stressed note wrecked with dissonance, or it could call for some relaxing, ambient atmospheres well versed in serenity. There is always a duality, a call and a response, in music. Sometimes, this exists primarily for musical purposes, but at other times it can reflect an artist’s current situation; in this instance, Vora’s musical duality exists due to the artist’s relocation.
Vora’s dual atmospheres push and pull between here and there, never really settling until the mid-point of the album. There is a fine counterbalance throughout Vora; the classic symbols of yin and yang, darkness and light, masculine and feminine, are only worn out clichés if you let them be – there isn’t any chance of escaping the divide. Vora is cut finely down the centre; the music creates notes that are mirrored with symmetry, concealed out of sight, but also everywhere you look. Ambient atmospheres trace a line all of their own, while on the other side of the glass a piano rocks gently. On one side, electronic beats settle down to provide a solid rhythm, and on the other side, the classical, orchestral strings shake the air. The only noticeable similarity between the two lines is the presence of the piano, perching on both sides, occasionally passing through one and into the other, with no sizable gulf between the elements.
Vora was conceived during the musician’s relocation, away from Portland, Oregon, and back to his homeland in Spain. This is reflected in the music’s state of mind, torn between the two divides and the two nations, yet not overtly stressed or anxious about the trip. Vora isn’t immune to the turbulence of relocation, but the music retains a heartening tranquility, an ambient assurance that the transition will be alright. The soul is linked to both areas via the roaming piano, despite the incredible distances between the two continents of Europe and North America.
A rolling piano phrase, rapidly speeding up and then slowing to a crawl, opens Vora. An unsettling air swings the mood on the whim of a breeze; in this piano lurks the uncertainty of the future, made ever more prevalent in the mind’s eye during an unpredictable period. The feelings of doubt and anxiety don’t last for long, though. ‘Fluvial’ is much more of herself, reassuring the listener with the aide of strings. The instruments quickly absorb themselves into the track, livening up the space and even obscuring the early piano phrases until every instrument is clustered into claustrophobia, cuddled together in tremors of excitement. Vora’s piano sections act as the foundation, like an anchor to the ship, but they never end up where they began. A prime example of this, and of the music’s dual nature, can be found in ‘Split’ (appropriate title, huh?) It catches the listener off guard – in a very good way – when the silky, contemporary, deep-cut beats enter. The track is almost dissected into two sections, a split all of itself, starting off with a minimalist piano phrase that is gently built upon in degrees, and then, before you know it, the track dissects itself, cutting between electronic synths, bass-driven arpeggios and tinted beats. The unexpected direction is a risk but a rewarding pay-off, and the newly-found rhythm really works to enhance and progress the track.
Up until ‘Hourglass I’, everything was sailing along quite contentedly. It is this piece, though, that really quickens the pulse, where orchestral strings ascend in a surge of loving adoration at the sight of a new found land. An apricot sunset comes into sight, and the lush vocals are blessed by a beautiful, female vocal, drenched in reverb. This piece is also divided into two sections, intersecting the music at the arrival of ‘Hourglass II’. Leading towards darker terrains and this time occupied by a masculine voice, the track vocalizes the split of emotions and dramatic mood-swings. Deep drones shield lighter tones inside the rising crest of ambience, and brave vocals search out the new horizon with excitement and opportunity. No fear here.
‘Dusk, Gravel, Dawn’ takes all of the previous elements and chains them all together as one, single entity; the duo into a sole being. It comes full circle, beginning with the opening sparse, cautious piano and an ominous sludge of deep drone, before coming out into the sun-swept melodies that promise a new day. Perhaps this is an excursion into our own thoughts when we face relocation; the initial fear and curiosity ebbing away like an ambient tide, towards the optimism of acceptance and comfort.
Before sinking back quietly, the music seems to wait, as if pondering the new horizon, and the precipice of a new homeland. A swoosh of a breeze tickles the face and ruffles the hair. It’s an ambient ending, one that rests in the new abode.