As well as running Canigou Records, an independent cassette label based between South East London and Malaga, Carlos Perea-Milla also releases music as Melquíades. Keep A Seed, his new album, is out 3 May on limited edition cassette.
Specializing in lo-fi, ambient, experimental noise, and folk music, the label is a diamond, and Keep A Seed sticks to its philosophy, blending flute, cello, electric guitar and piano and then scrunching them up to form a blissful, lo-fi ambient atmosphere which can only emanate with success from the wonderful aesthetic of tape. The format, and the recording process, adds another dimension to the music. Always! The music spools outwards, capable of displaying multiple personalities: either a burst of high energy by virtue of an electric guitar, its naturally-bright and clear tones full of optimism and reaching out for something like happiness, or a slower, looping refrain which floats over ambient terrain, and occupying itself with a more thoughtful, overcast mood.
It all makes for a highly diverse album, and that’s something to celebrate. Like a chug of cartoon smoke from a famous Disney cartoon, the sound billows outwards, its shimmering, coastal sound influenced by warmer seas and its Spanish climate. Keep A Seed is a colouring book, with all of its vibrant fonts getting down to work and filling in the blanks, erasing black-and-white timbres with a dose of guitar. Sunglasses may be needed. The two contrasting sounds could perhaps represent the two continents and the two very different areas of London and Malaga: one overcast, pensive, rain-swept (at times), and the other emanating from a beach bar, sand between the toes and a sun-drenched vibe settling into the mix.
The guitar’s light-yet-energetic strumming drives the rhythm, pressing the music forward, and the music wants to go forward. But everything slows down, and the strong, Spanish sunshine drains the music of its energy – energy, not effort – and the record has a nice balance between a higher tempo and a sedate siesta. The loops revolve and recycle, the tape passing through the reels. The magic of the tape format is here, ringing true in every muffled timbre and every creased tone.
A warm, cosy feel, which can only really come from either vinyl or cassette, peppers the record; graced by the sound of summer, even on overcast days.
It goes down the gullet with ease, as satisfying as a pizza fresh out of its wood-fired oven and complemented by a side salad soaked in olive oil. Its diversity is its champion, invitation and acceptance spilling out like tomato sauce from the sides of its crust. Other sounds have bright carousel tones, their glinting horses circling around and around with every repetition of the loop. It welcomes all sounds to the funfair: immigrants and natives are all together, all one, literally living harmonious lives together. Every note is created equal. Perhaps here in the UK, we could learn from the music’s example of selflessness and love.