Review: Camila De Laborde – Opuntia

camila-de-laborde-opuntia

“There is no end,” chants Camila Fuchs during the third track on Opuntia. It’s an apt statement for music that manifests as a continuous, restless transformation process. Over the course of 14 minutes, I hear these pieces strive to adapt and re-adapt to their environment, as tiny modulations in one corner of the frame cause ripples of re-adjustment across Fuchs’ web of interconnected sound. Nothing is fixed. She gravitates toward sonic notions of volatility and frailty: staccato synth pulses that leap into the air and vanish, noises that crumple as they navigate tampered circuitry, keyboards drenched in a vibrato that leaves their outlines undulating like shapes viewed through a glass of water. Perky curiosity melts into sombre vulnerability, as clipped rhythms fall away and let sad, slurred melodies pour through. No sooner have I comprehended my surroundings than everything has started to shift again, forever reframing what I thought I knew.

Camila Fuch’s voice is at the centre, her pitch skewed slightly by chorus FX. Often I hear her playfully interacting with the rhythms that dance above and below; such as at the start of “We Are Conducting”, where she uses the punctuative, plodding refrain as a vaulting platform for her vocal phrasing. On “You Couldn’t Build That, You Couldn’t Pretend”, her words brush gently against the ridge of a discordant loop like fingers run along a metal fence, unphased by the drumbeat that jars against the tempo of the track. She accepts transience of everything around her, embracing the impulses that drive her to groan in exasperation or unravel phonemes into long sighs, using her voice as a vehicle for reaction and inquiry rather than as a means of consolidating into meaning. After all, with these meticulous patterns of DIY circuitry move too quickly to understand, one can either helplessly attempt to keep pace or revel in the sensation of losing control. Opuntia is a fizzing, spinning, exhilarating ode to the later.