Maker of the abstract and turner of the world's axis, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is one of musique concrète's rocks, using reel to reel tapes and field recordings of the area around his hometown to make half-compositions. He's pretty much always recording the sounds of his life, kind of like if WANDA GROUP was in The Truman Show. A Year With 13 Moons consists of sounds recorded to a stereo tape to create a record that's less fragmented and more sustainably gorgeous -- New Age coming from happy accidents.
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Jefre Cantu–Ledesma may be best known through his collaborations with Liz Harris (aka Grouper) as Raum or as the head of the influential Root Strata label, but he’s been releasing music as a solo artist for years. This album, put together from mammoth recording sessions during a residency at the Headlands Centre for the Arts in San Francisco is an absolute stunner.
The relatively lengthy opener ‘The Last Time I Saw Your Face’ fades in with deep dreamy melodic looped synths atop a rolling muffled bass groove that pushes against the membrane of ordinary fidelity before being transformed into a distortion encrusted phoenix that eventually plummets into a sea of static leaving just a wisp of its previous melody. ‘Love After Love’ repeats a similarly mesmerising loop that sounds like a Cocteau Twins sample played in a cave recorded in the red on a malfunctioning reel-to-reel.
The album then moves through a series of briefer (mostly 2 mins or less), more varied tracks. These range from the relatively cleanly rendered elegiac synth-pop of ‘Disappear’ to the dark and disjointed ‘Interiors’; with its weird atonal rumble and wheezing vocal abstractions which along with ‘Görlitzer Park’ and ‘Remains’ bring to mind the kind of atavistic fissures opened up by deconstructionists like This Heat or much missed avant rockers Mouthus. The constant flow of these short pieces, each one an enigmatic snapshot of an entire sound world, leaves you with a feeling of wanting more in the wake of each track that dissolves as the next piece emerges.
Throughout the album there are echoes of the texture heavy strains of proto-shoegazers like The Cure, the aforementioned Cocteau Twins and of course My Bloody Valentine, with shimmering flanging guitar lines, dense synths and layers of distortion forming a heady haze that is as blissful as it is melancholic.
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