Paco Sala follow up their debut cassette release, Radial Sundown, with Ro-me-ro, as Konntinent’s Antony Harrison joins forces with enigmatic vocalist Leyli.
The result is classic widescreen trip-hop reinvented and recast as tropical opera. In Jean Rhys’s late 60s novel Wide Sargasso Sea, the mad woman in the attic of Emily Bronte’s Jane Eyre is re-imagined as a Creole heiress, with multiple viewpoints and voices telling the hidden story of her passage from the Caribbean of her birth to her descent into madness and imprisonment in England. Ro-me-ro’s verdant electronic dream-pop similarly takes us on a journey through cavernous voicescapes, quiet interludes and the heavily reverbed spaces of contemplation and natural beauty.
There’s an unavoidable sense of tropical lushness in the evolving exotica of Spiral. The counterpoint of the male and female vocals adds intimacy to an electronic dreamscape punctuated by organic sounds and simple repeating beats and fills. This is not simply ‘tropicalist’ colouration however; there is an ever-present feeling that the bright daubs of a water-coloured bay might be rain-washed by a monsoon deluge, rendering the picture unintelligible and alien. This is a journey through spaces that, like the language of the singer, only hint at locations and references. At times Cocteau Twins-esque, at others a bit Francoise Hardy, we are always teetering on the edge of angst and ennui, always in sight of the sun and the sea. There is an element to the sound that brings to mind the undervalued Lamb and their debut album, which managed to mix elegant sample-smithery with real emotional impact. The track Earn Your Stripe has all this and more with its half spoken reverie.
The aptly titled A Home for Paco Sala closes the album in a fit of half chords and second chances, burning distortions and chopped beats, suggesting that this home must always be temporary and fleeting, always only one step on the path to somewhere else, our time in the sun only a stage in our passage to another.