How Much Left Gone by Iván Muela

Iván Muela | How Much Left Gone
self-released (CS/DL)

The process of making this new atmospheric ambient album, How Much Left Gone, had Iván Muela working with minimal tools as he explained:

“It was produced using a 4-track cassette recorder and a reduced sound palette, consisting on an old synth, contact mics, ground noise, feedback and guitar pedals, to create simple loops and drones that intertwine and unfold at their own pace.”

And paced it is. Over its forty or so minutes the listener will deeply dive into temperate chasm of undulating pastel harmony. It’s title, with a sort of broken English redundancy, also has a glimmer of melancholia built into what is assumed hope. Normally I am not too big a fan of bare guitar semblances, but Muela has bundled them with just the apropos amount of brokenness to offer something that sounds organic and genuine.

There are no cliches here, instead, there is this sense of building something, a home, a safe space, a nest. This is also referenced in the absolutely striking collage/painted coverart by Yasmine Dainelli, whose handmade grid and excision of actual (or specific) people is the counter to a world all a-flurry in facetune, categorization and profiling. This sense of dis/harmony plays into the tactile nature of the otherwise orchestral Triumphantly Bewildered. There’s something tattered and torn, something unfinished, something being longed for, and deeply here. A phenomenally heartfelt sound work.

Pieces like Expecting (at least) and A shiver through the are intensely minimal, and if you are one of those people who flips channels rather quickly you will likely miss the acute implications these offer. Soft and intimate. The latter reminds me of Vangelis 2.0 (once removed). A, dare I say, ‘pretty’ track with a forward-moving, low-lying rhythm and a bit of crustiness, just the right percentage of industrialism to keep this on its track.

On Spine, the closer, a slightly off-kilter loop blends with a rainstorm of static that comes and goes (on both accounts). The title may throw you as this (other than continuing to stand) is in no way aggressive, like a firm spine – more like an aged vintage of wine (rhyme as it may). This likely has more in common with the notion that patience (in a time when there is so much less) is an integral part of a reciprocal relationship (composing -or- listening). These ears are all the wiser and/or warmer, for having taken the adequate time to allow Muela’s gorgeous work to sink in.

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