Etude

On a glacial January afternoon, the sky stuck in a will-it-snow? kind of grey, I decide to play Lullaby For Lali expecting stridency, if not blasphemy. Can’t explain why, especially considering the relative tranquillity of Ferran Fages’ recent solo releases and the tenderness of the sepia-tinged cover photo, and I feel a right fool when a slow sequence of swelling glissandi and sparse acoustic plucks begins, leaving me staring at the void. Wonderful, indeed. But it changes after a while, and the real lullaby starts: strummed guitars, a basic melody played on a metallophone, the simplicity of a children’s tune. Still, there’s something underlying the apparent naiveté: the oscillation lingers on, destabilizing the mood just a bit before elliptical cycles return to end the story. The second side comprises an “electric” version (though my copy of the LP seems to have both parts and labels reversed), a chain of clear-cut chords and stagnant layers revealing a solid harmonic building characterized by powerful lows. The growing tension turns this simple progression into an original stab at contemporary minimalism: think Tony Conrad recorded in someone’s living room minus the grating overload, accompanied by Loren Connors at his best. Eventually, guitar (and guitaret) remain alone, a pitch-shifted duet occurring in between a serene disembodiment. Fages and dedicatee Lali Barrière have managed to craft a precious little object, not distant from certain intimate pages of Jim O’Rourke’s diaries.

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