A time to love, a time to die is the new EP from Mexico-city based experimental collective Amor Muere, featuring Mabe Fratti, Gibrana Cervantes, Concepción Huerta, and Camille Mandoki. As I said in my review of the single ‘Love Dies’ the band is an incredible line-up of people who push the boundaries of sound, composition and arrangement to create music that is haunting, challenging and atmospheric.
There is something very elemental about this EP as it opens with the turbulent, but compelling, ‘LA’ with urgent bowing and sul ponticello* on the cello before a gentle tune begins to drift over the top. But the tune starts to be subsumed by a dramatic cello-storm that builds throughout the track pushing aside everything in its path.
‘Shhhhh’, is a chance to see what damage the storm has wrought. It is a cascading battery of disorientating cello stabs, scratches, and drone notes cocooned in electronic mist. It’s not an easy listen but like a mental decongestant it certainly clears the pathways. ‘reciprocal reaction’ is built on something that sounds like it is inspired by the cogs and springs of an 18th century automata. The ethereal nature of the harmonised vocal floats in but begins to phase with the rising background, tuning in and out like trying to hold on to a long wave station on a distant island.
‘Love Dies’ was the first track released and it is also the English translation of the band’s name. It is created out of layers of cello which build slowly from light breezes into a blustery swirl of looped chords and shifting harmonies. Everything is wrapped in low oscillating sounds and occasional percussive beats, and the half-whispered vocals create the effect of someone singing to you in a dream. The EP closes with ‘Violeta y Malva’ an 18-minute odyssey that encompasses pulsating electronic swells, susurrating ambient noise that sizzles and rustles all around, and vocals that feel like their own version of a call to prayer. It ends like someone has taken notes in the margin, sketches and streams of consciousness and placed them in a melting pot to bubble.
A time to love, a time to die is a kaleidoscope of the sublime and the unsettling and Amor Muere have a great ability to mix pastoral tranquillity with the viscera of and brutality of what is really going on under the surface.
*playing near the cello’s bridge to call out harmonics and get a more nasal tone
Review by Paul F Cook