Fatamorgana, Terra Alta (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Fatamorgana is a Barcelona-based project featuring Patrycja Proniewska and Louis Harding, whose previous endeavors ranged from the sandblasted hardcore of bands like Good Throb and the gothic, post-punk textures of outfits like Belgrado. Following on last year’s excellent, self-released demo, debut long-player Terra Alta finds the duo striking a midpoint between the sparse, new wave mood pieces of bands like Visage, Yaz(oo), or early Human League (think Travelogue, or Dare tracks like ‘Sound of the Crowd’ – not ‘Human’) and the later, lushness of later 80s bands like Propaganda or Book of Love.
A fata morgana is a type of complex mirage, its layers of distorted images at times resulting in certain shapes on the horizon appearing to float (and named, apparently, for Morgan le Fay). This seems a fitting name for the band, as the surface-level simplicity of these 11 tracks often beguile and distract from the complexities beneath. Nowhere is this clearer than on album highlight, ‘10 Minutos de la Tierra’, whose leveled beat and floating vocals must surely make Vince Clarke wish he’d written it 35-odd years ago. Elsewhere, ‘Universo’ shifts an elongated, processed vocal left and right for so long it becomes disorienting. Closer ‘El Desvanecer del Futuro’ is a strobe-lit dance floor epic built upon the sturdiest of synthesized bass and rhythm that gradually fades off over the horizon.
The lyrics are mostly in spanish, and mine is not good; however, a quick review of the titles suggests a lyrical focus on the magical/mystical places and times (Atlantis, labyrinths, the dawn, the universe/deep space) that fit well with the album’s feel. Terra Alta is out now, courtesy of the always fab La Vida Es Un Mus discos.
Highlights include: “10 Minutos de la Tierra”; “La Atlántida”; “El Desvanecer del Futuro”.