Sunday, December 30, 2007

Maquiladora - ritual of hearts (2002)

Maquiladora remain one of the best kept secrets of contemporary Americana, probably the most atmospheric and also one of the most emotional alternative-country outfits.

"The Secret" is a ghostly waltz worthy of the Black Heart Procession, while "Ritual Of Hearts" is a dreamy lullaby that weds the Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star, and then vanishes in an industrial whisper. The ghostly atmosphere reappears in "Heaven", which drapes the singer's evocation across a mirage of guitars, pianos and strings.

Another meditation, "Sweet After", takes the desert-rock of Calexico and gives it an eerie metaphysical dimension. In comparison, "I'm In Love" sounds much more traditional but no less tender. Then the brief vignette "A Vow" sounds like whispers carried in the wind through romantic ears, leading to "Sound Of Rain", half bittersweet hymn and half melancholy ballad.

The album reaches it's apex with the last 3 songs, featuring their best attempts at an otherwordly ambience. First, "Chinese Girl", which garnishes the intimate melody with an organ drone, fragile harmonicas, playful piano and a delicate beat. The mood that prevails is resigned melancholy. Then the anemic dirge "She's More Beautiful To Me" transforms this melancholy to an incorporeal entity, as if the soul is leaving the body after a long and painful journey. The journey then ends with "Static Hum", which is almost dream-pop and slowcore (Low crossed with Slowdive), with the blurry instrumentation clearing to reveal a sweet melody. Still, as this heavenly illusion fades into nothingness, a reprise of "The Secret" leads us back to where we started, back to the start of the circle.

Get it here.

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