Reviews

 

Luciernaga “Sleeping/Wandering” 7″ (Fabrica)

“I know I don’t have to worry about Luciernaga, nee Joao Da Silva, at all; he’s going to get in touch when he needs to with his carefully curated wares. He’s not like that tape-label-ownin’ guy in NYC who kept mispronouncing Goebbels. He comes correct, and “Sleeping”/”Wandering” might be his finest exhibition of new-age drone wares yet, sparkling like a brightly colored painting and glinting like water licked by sunshine. “Wandering” is the track on which I choose to focus my gaze, as its deep, resonant strings and ever-so-tiny squeaks speak volumes without a word being uttered. It’s like watching a key scene in a movie wherein each character meats his maker or triumphs at the risk of all, usually in slow motion, as the highly paid actors try their best to look earnest and emotional. It’s so evocative I almost wish I could overcome my SAD and talk to Da Silva about this piece, as its among the best drone I’ve heard, ever. Effortless, too; inevitable as the seasons, steady as the hand creating it. I’m in awe of “Wandering,” and it’s… in awe of me, maybe? Lots of love in this record room. “Sleeping” is more of a traditional cassette-scene drone drizzle, coming down hard and consistently until ur ears are wet as a puppy dog’s glistening nose. It’s another soundtrack cut without a movie to make better, but it also stands firmly on its own, furnishing a bright landscape dotted with lazy clouds and a distant, surging sun. If you’re going to slap a couple of drones onto a 7-inch, do like Luciernaga does and make every… second… count. It’s a tough pill to swallow, sure, but it’s easier than printing up a bunch of vinyl that doesn’t get traction and ends up lying around your apartment. “Sleeping”/”Wandering,” in addition to offering two sides of quality, is of an extremely limited quantity (100 on clear wax) that won’t last long if past Da Silva projects are any indication. File that under: Advice.” – Grant Purdum – Tiny Mix Tapes

Luciernaga “Sic Transit Gloria” C-40 (Etcs Recs)

“There is a distinct sense of nostalgia running through this newest Luciernaga release. Fitting, since the entire work was inspired by Joao Da Silva’s hometown of Santiago, Chile, and is even released by a hometown as a limited edition cassette. His work has always had a sense of personal intimacy amidst the sonic abstraction, and this is no different. Sic Transit Gloria is an emotionally rich, and extremely diverse piece of complex ambient music.

The entirety of this cassette is sourced only from guitar and autoharp, although it is at times difficult to believe given the diverse array of sounds Da Silva creates here. It is only really in the opening piece, “11:00 AM 9/11/73” where the instrumentation sounds most apparent, save for a few other scattered moments. Here he generates an expansive web of droning strings, most closely resembling bowed autoharp strings. While there is a significant amount of layering, the piece overall sticks to only the essentials, which is more than enough to sustain the subtle beauty he creates. “Mi Memoria Obstinada” is of similarly sparse construction. Expanding tones of an unclear nature stretch out, carefully intertwined together and wavering slightly enough to create a noticeable change and development in the sound. As a whole, Da Silva does an exemplary job of creating a piece of an extremely delicate nature, yet one that is surprisingly strong and powerful in its understated complexity.

There is significant variation throughout these pieces, however, and “Respiramos” features a different side of Luciernaga’s sound, with humming electronics and what sounds like distorted guitar loops paired with clean, untreated guitar playing that blends brilliantly, but is disappointingly brief. “Te Desvaneces” has Da Silva going in a different direction, here with electronic-like high frequency loops and reversed guitar parts both running through effects. The insistent radar beacon like loops feature heavily as light puffs of guitar sound are pushed through, with the whole piece becoming looser and more improvised sounding in its conclusion.

The final two compositions, however, are the strongest and most diverse on this tape. “Aire Negro” is largely made up of unidentifiable sounds in a complex mix. Rhythmic bits of scraping and banging-like sounds are weaved in and out with clouds of guitar passing over. Even with this complex, at times dizzying array of sounds being utilized, the dynamics are kept soft, so it never becomes overwhelming. The 15 minute closer “La Tragedia Que Es Chile” ends this release on a somewhat harsh note. With an opening that sounds like synthesizer through a battery of distortion pedals, there is a noise tinge covering the whole piece. The harshness is kept in check, but there is a lot of forcefulness in this piece, blending ugly electronics processing and shimmering melodies together, building to an almost piercing, feedback-laden conclusion.

Sic Transit Gloria is yet another strong addition to the always impressive Luciernaga discography. At this point, it just further solidifies my opinion that Joao Da Silva’s horribly underrecognized as the brilliant sound artist he is. His ability to create such a diverse array of sounds from only limited sources is unparalleled, and his skill at knowing just how much processing and post-production to utilize without a composition dissolving into a monochromatic dull roar is impeccable. Hopefully his notoriety will soon grow proportional to his skill, and then I can pull the “oh I was into his stuff years ago” card that so many of us music nerds are fond of doing. Sarcasm aside, this is a powerful and beautiful piece of music that demonstrates his continued brilliance.” – Creaig Dunton – Brainwashed

Luciernaga “To The Centre Of The City In The Night” C-50 (Invisible City)

“J.M. Da Silva, or Luciernaga, trades on a murky brand of ambient drone that squeezes spiritual elements out of the art form. I didn’t even realize that was possible until several years back, when that Riceboy Sleeps 2XLP woke me up to the possibilities. Thing is though, I’ve heard a select few manage the same feat and, what’s worse for my particular situation, I can’t rightly describe what renders one amb-dro a religious experience and another an average tape-pile piece of fodder. The conclusion I’ve come to is that the tape-flippers who are tugging my soul’s strings like that are simply working harder than the rest to bring their vision to fruition. Luciernaga makes it look easy, but he’s pulling levers and sprinkling sugars you almost certainly aren’t aware of, the relatively thin production of To the Centre Of the City In the Night belying its dense, multi-layered nature. You witness an imaginary city coming to life, care of a simple brew of synth, guitar, and voice, and as the compositions slowly take shape the mind can only latch onto small details (the fade-out of an element you didn’t know existed, the high-pitched synth emanations that stand out in the mix, the whirls of sunshine crowding “Sleeping Green-Eyed Girl”). And that’s easily enough to become absorbed in the mainframe of To the Centre Of the City In the Night, circular enough to fool you into listening through two or three times but memorable enough to remain saved in your mental data banks for life.” – Grant Purdum, Cerebrus – Tiny Mix Tapes

Luciernaga “Tile II” C-30 (Idle Chatter)

August 2015

“With a single tap of a singing bowl, Luciernaga announces: ‘Class is now in session.’ Take a seat and get ready to earn a Ph.D. in Drone Economics: just enough, but not too much. Over the course of Tile II, Joao Da Silva (of Fabria Records) methodically places layers of hypnotic guitar tones one by one, examining each and its relationship to the others before moving on. He flirts with melody but never fully embraces it—musical phrases fall into place and then dissipate just as quickly, allowing us to stew in the resonances and fill in the blanks in our minds. As these pieces churn, new ideas and relationships slowly bubble to the top without ever breaking the dialed-in calm. In addition to being a top-tier drone tape, Tile II is also exciting because it’s first release on Fabrica’s new Idle Chatter imprint, which will double down on the homespun part of cassette culture with artist-curated batches, handmade packaging and home-dubbed tapes.” – Ad Hoc Issue #8

Luciernaga/La Mancha Del Pecado
Split”
C-30 (Fabrica Records)
– September 7, 2014
“Chilean by way of Brooklyn artist Joao Da Silva has been quietly building an impressive discography of droning guitar electronics that can vacillate significantly between dark terrors and bright, shimmering expanses of sound. These two new limited tapes (one a split release with La Mancha Del Pecado) provide an exceptional overview of his widely varying, yet consistently excellent music.

The split release has Da Silva making an intentional tribute to the earliest forms of industrial music. Packaged in a cardboard box with artwork inspired by Throbbing Gristle’s 7” singles, both he and La Mancha Del Pecado (Miguel Perez) look back to when industrial meant a chaotic, beatless expanse of terrifying sound.

Luciernaga’s stays in a darker place on “Cuartel Terranova” for its duration, mixing deep subterranean rumble with a shuddering vibrato. It retains that dark, rumbling ambience that early Throbbing Gristle worked with. The piece slowly expands, with Da Silva later introducing a noisy crackling to offset the otherwise low end drone, but the piece stays entrenched in sinister, oppressive territory.

On the flip side, Perez first goes for a metallic din reminiscent of Test Department or SPK on “La Gata.” Loud banging noises form a rhythmic framework, buried in echo chamber hell. It is less subtle than the Luciernaga side, and has a lo-fi clipping, microphone in a windstorm overdriven sound to it. The banging noise eventually relents for buzzing synth expanses, then into a harsh power electronics crunch. Perez keeps the piece solidly rooted mostly in noise, but retains a nice rhythmic surge with it.

Tile, an extremely limited cassette that is also available digitally, is surprisingly well documented given its ambiguous nature, with instrumentation spelled out explicitly in the packaging. Rapidly recorded and produced, the result has far more depth than its intentionally unedited and impulsive creation would lead me to believe.

The first side of the tape is the more complex one. Built from variously configured guitars, bowed metal, and a Tibetan prayer bowl, Da Silva opens the piece blending deep swells of blackened dungeon noise with pristine silence. Focusing more on the higher frequencies, the metal scrapes are appropriately creepy and ghostly. He then introduces in the guitar, a blurry haze of notes that do not hide the instrumentation.

He slowly fills the mix in more from here, first with a noisier passage of guitar that adds in a perfect amount of crunch and distortion. Eventually the guitar is replaced with the feedback like tones of the prayer bowl and mournful guitar noise. The other half of Tile is a bit less accessible, consisting of a single second and a half loop of shruti box repeated for over 22 minutes, recorded with the stated purpose of aiding in meditation. It has a flowing, sad melodic flow to sound that helps make its repetitive nature feel more varied than it is.

These two tapes make a wonderful pair to showcase the diversity of sound Joao Da Silva works with as Luciernaga. Sad, menacing, aggressive, and even sometimes light and ambient, his diverse array of talent is clearly on display. The half provided by La Mancha Del Pecado is no slouch either, making for a noise driven counterpoint to Luciernaga’s creeping menace.”
Brainwashed.com

Luciernaga “Tile” C-47 (self-released)
– September 7, 2014
The latest release by Luciernaga is super limited edition cassette (only 20) entitled, Tile. Side A consists of 5 recordings of ethereal sounds & textures, all untitled other than a brief explanation of the devices or instruments used to create the them – bow scraping on metal, treated guitar, detuned guitar loops, a Tibetan prayer bowl, followed by slide guitar with e-bow. Each track has it’s own deliberately meditative quality and you are gently pulled into one after another with ease. Don’t let the seemingly abrasive “bow scraping against metal” deter you… Without this knowledge, I doubt one would really guess what was utilized for the composition.Side B, again is an invitation to the listener to get lost in the recording, as a continuous loop repeats for the 22 plus remaining minutes of the cassette. Other than an extremely slow fade, the track does not have any varying quality in the sound or pitch but this undoubtedly assists in what the track was intended for: meditation, invocations or conjurings according to the liner notes.The cassette is home-dubbed and housed in a beautiful patterned, hand numbered Brad Pak. Included with my copy was a silkscreened or stamped image of a Hamsa on paper. – Spring Break Tapes

Luciernaga “Tile” C-47 (self-released)
– September 25, 2014
“What begins with a point of sharp feedback and dialtone drone becomes covered in guitar notes and eventually an onslaught of guitar distortion. When I thought that Side A was ending there were these small “tings” being made but it actually did come back for more experimental madness after that. There are moments of that Star Wars sort of drone waves pattern that once you hear it you know it going on to kick off Side B and this just on a whole goes to show you what can be done with various instruments but in such a simple way. Saying it is simple isn’t an insult, it’s just that I hadn’t thought for quite some time about just how much goes into a single guitar chord until listening to this cassette.That Return of the Jedi Atari sound of synth waves in and out on a constant loop for most of Side B. There are some almost beeping tones that make their presence felt and it reminds me a bit of the old “Halloween” theme song more than anything else. (Though there might be a bit of “Unsolved Mysteries” in there as well). Overall this is some really good drone put to loops and I just feel like I got caught in the loop and cannot break free as I just want to keep listening to this one over and over again.” – Joshua Macala, Raised By Gypsies

Luciernaga “Collected Works 2008-2013” CD (Fabrica)
– September 16, 2014
Click here to read full review.
“Like many experimental musicians, Da Silva uses diverse instruments and various methods to achieve the results found on the album. Voice, guitar, singing bowl, field recordings, etc., are all employed, resulting in a strong album of experimental ambience that often sounds restrained and subtle, with moments that occasionally border on the edges of noise and dissonance. Those more intense moments rarely overstay their welcome and are intelligently used as accents to dance around and bring greater significance to the quieter sections on the disc. Whether it was intentional or not, the loudest songs happen to bookend the album. Opening track, “If You See…The Pulse of Water (Reprise)”, as well as the album closer, “Cadaveres”, are the loudest of the group and serve as a portal into and an exit out of the collected works. It’s a wise move, the sort of creative musical symmetry that always strikes a chord within me.” – Cody Drasser, Heathen Harvest

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