Review: Jérémie Mathes – Efequén

For a record that acts as a geomorphological picture of the crumbly, grey landscape of Lanzarote, water is in surprisingly lively abundance. Then again, as with any land mass, its presence is heavily defined by the polarity of its immediate surroundings; its dryness can be sonically realised by water fizzing over harsh earth, rendered in high definition through the contrast of liquid and sand, or liquid and metal. And indeed, it is with some irony that the album’s dry and cracked shapes are cast by the water that runs around its shape – like a physical realisation of bat sonar, an outline and texture starts to materialise as a tidal or gravitational energy laps and splashes against static structure.

“Arrecife” makes for an interesting opening. Human life bubbles in the form of children playing and cars hissing past, springing upward from an ominous, sub-bass hum creeping beneath the concrete. The rest of the album is a departure from this brief spell of human contact, moving from an explicit form of life to explore the more haunting undercurrents of activity that comprise Lanzarote’s heartbeat. “Ciclos” juxtaposes the creaking voices of aquatic plants with hollow, reverberant clangs from a decaying metal bridge, which sighs and howls as vibration judders through its broken frame. Meanwhile, “Los Caletones” (named after a sandy bay in northern Lanzarote) puts a twist on a classic: the inevitable and unmistakable sound of the ocean rolling in and out, serrating its soft teeth on volcanic black rock instead of supple sands. Water runs through these shells of past existence and sets aqueous phantoms into being as it goes, exorcising a voice that otherwise lays dormant inside the island’s dry skeletons of rock and artificial construction.