Dry Grass by Juan Antonio Nieto

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Juan Antonio Nieto | Dry Grass
Marbre Negre (CDR-PRO/DL)

On the first recording on the Marbre Negre imprint from percussionist and artist Juan Antonio Nieto, we experience the resolute textural quality to the sound of this longtime collaborator (Shakermoon, Alphaville). Nieto incorporates a range of field recordings and other electronic effects throughout for an atmosphere that draws from microsound, the natural environment, and the in-between. It’s a cagey sensory mix that puts the listener at the center of these wading, wriggling, and hivelike actions.

Audible are many things organic, in the outdoors, but somehow these manage to cloak themselves in the obscurity of the way they are layered and cobbled together. I think I hear insects but in a split second it sounds as if it could be coming from an industrial source, and not knowing makes this all the more a sequential conundrum.

Lost between static and subliminal tones, Red on Grey is half tone-test, half synthetic woodlands. And this more mechanical side of the organic comes full circle on Three Sides which sputters perplexing exhaust. Echoes illuminates a soundscape akin to fireworks and waves clashing. The further you go the slightly more contentious the setting becomes, all the way up until the final cut, Golem. It’s as if everything on the horizon is overly sundried, and the mechanisms employed are tilling the leaf-like matter, ending with an unplugged and grainy, industrial arrangement rather than a soft fade.

The aesthetic is loose with many varying values in texture, from non-linear scratches and pops, to quaking springs and strings. Nieto creates a bracing microtonal alchemy with a graceful balance between friction and freeform. Deep listening.

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