It always surprises how few movers and shakers in pop these days come from Spain. There's no major stars in pop, rock, hip hop, electronica, indie, you name it Sure, there are crossovers, but nothing major. It's not to say there's nothing good coming out of the country - far from it - but it was one of the catalysts in my choosing an act which is not wholly, 100% Spanish, as such, to feature today.
Many of you will be familiar with Scott Herren's glitch-hop, going under the moniker of Prefuse73. Working from his home in Atlanta, he's become one of the leading lights in the crossover electronic/hip hop sphere. This year's Security Screenings, and even more so, '03's One Word Extinguisher are great, great records, combining MC contributions cut up and warped (to the point where a number have publicly whinged about it), weird lo-fi and found sounds, and dirty, crunchy beats. However, Herren's not all about this kind of thing: check out his side-project Savath and Savalas, for instance.
Savath and Savalas was brought into being on an eighteen-month excursion to Barcelona, where Herren had gone to uncover his Spanish roots and learn a little of the culture he hadn't had when growing up. On this trip he met up with Eva Puyuelo Muns, a til then undiscovered singer/songwriter, and some sort of musical bond was formed. Shared interests like Brazilian psych of the 1970's, Spanish folk song and "Afro/Cuban/Puerto Rican/NYC fusions" led to an EP then a full album, Apropa't.
If you're only familiar with Herren, as is likely, as Prefuse73, then you'll be caught offguard by the melodies and production on Apropa't, in particular. The album features both artists singing and a number of traditional instruments, and creates a supremely evocative sound. It retains the slightly experimental edge in its structures and forms, but loses the glitches and hip hop of Prefuse, instead incorporating a more traditional sound in it's instrumentation and arrangements. That's not to say you'll have ever heard anything quite like it though, and it's not to say that it doesn't bring to mind a dusty, hot evening in Barcelona, with the breeze starting to pour in, maybe looking down from a roof terrace onto hustle and bustle below yet being utterly detached from it.
The enchanting album was released on Warp in 2004 after being mixed at Tortoise's studio and has subsequently received very little attention - it was unknown to me until I happened upon it looking for interesting Spanish music. Listening to it right now, I'd never believe I was listening to the man behind the two albums mentioned, or the Prefuse73 Reads The Books album - instead it's an altogether different experience: less beard-strokingly cerebral perhaps, but more organic, and just as listenable.
Savath & Savalas - Dejame
Savath & Savalas - Balcon Sin Flores
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Tags: Spain; World Cup; Prefuse73; Scott Herren; Savath & Savalas;
CIA Factbook: Spain