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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - “On The Echoing Green” (2017) review


Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - On The Echoing Green (Mexican Summer, 2017)

On The Echoing Green is a definitive change of heart for prolific ambient and noise artist Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. Released this summer, the album is ripe with a warm haze that beguiles and transfixes. The journey is gentle yet visceral, tenebrous yet astral. Swimming in and out of hard-edged loops and syrupy walls of sound, we float down into our seats. The bus has left the station. We are already on our way.

‘A Song of Summer,’ one of the main attractions, opens you up to what’s coming. Guitars ring out in the distance as our ears are doused in static-y havoc. Sweetly longing vocals coast across the poignancy—courtesy of Sobrenada, the bedroom pop Argentine featured across several of the release’s tracks.

A drum kit softly thumps into awareness. Quivering synths weave together lo-fi tapestries, and you begin to wonder whether your dreaming or stuck inside the most graceful quantum computer. With an empyrean shower of emotion, ‘The Faun’ demonstrates just how well Cantu-Ledesma combines jagged electronica with the familiar potency of a simple keyboard.

As we slide into the halfway point of the album, ‘Tenderness’ has little qualm berating us with its shoegaze-y sway, but it couldn’t be more welcome. Lackadaisical vocals creeps over a parading army of riffs. You see all the reason to slump into your chair, but can’t help smiling in languid bliss. At this point it feels only natural to take a breath and look out the window. What do you see? Sunshine? Wet pavement? The juxtaposition couldn’t be juicier.

These cathartic bouts seem divided by somewhat atonal interludes. Tracks like ‘In a Copse,’ ‘Echoing Green,’ and ‘Vulgar Latin’ string together varieties of clamor with waves of tranquil consonance. You feel your breath return. A soothing aside to recollect the pieces.

The trip continues with ‘Dancers At the Spring,’ a 6-minute long plummet into a cavern of harmonic delays. While Cantu-Ledesma powers on with his oscillating arsenal of plucked guitar strings, a looped percussion timidly carries the momentum. Beginning with a sense of brazen hope, you feel a cloak of light envelope your senses. You hover. A steadfast juvenescence fills your lungs. But as the last notes trail off, so does this vague sea of hospitality.

Finally, ‘Door To Night’ pours water on your face and slaps you into the new day. The mangled ambience of a grassy field and chirping birds crowd the mic. It’s morning. Stumbling to your feet you remember everything as a precious stream of melody. Confrontation dissolves into apathy, and apathy dissolves into crystalline equanimity. A battery of rushed collages momentarily butts heads with an internal composure, but everything is ok. You have reached the other side. The hypnotic rattle of clipping synths greets you with open arms.

-Gabe Kahan
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