Review: Artificial Memory Trace – Boto [Encantado]

The hand of the composer adopts a translucent presence throughout Boto [Encantado]. Natural landscape is decomposed and then reassembled; the end result is imaginary but entirely believable, gently guided through narrative and transitory emphasis without sacrificing the sense of place and immersion. Kwi is both at the mercy of his field recording and in absolute control, capturing a unique balance between letting sound unfold on its own terms and channelling its energy into a structure that feels inherently musical – the Amazonian rainforest is still visible, even with the jigsaw pieces subtly switched.

The atmosphere is ultimately one of meditative calm, with the listener free to lean into the ever-present chirp of exotic birds and insects, or wallow in the swills of water and creaking utterances of the boto (the Amazonian river dolphin from which the record derives its name). But there’s also a great sense of tension within the composition process – Kwi is tiptoeing through the pseudo-soundscape, adjusting volume levels, setting animal calls into subtle loops, slowing down sounds until they grumble in the lower frequency registers – without laying waste to the harmonious natural balance undoubtedly present within the original field recordings. It’s like a particularly vivid dream – rich in the colours and textures of the physical world, backlit ever so slightly by the surreal glow of Kwi’s reconfiguration.