Transmogrifying ancient text into sound, one melody-obsessed Catalan conjures up most potent magic.
Weird as it may seem, nowadays only a rare ensemble perform the blissfully quirky Renaissance rock the way the artists from five decades ago did, with tons of fantasy applied to folk and psychedelia, yet Vicente Maciá, who in the ’90s steered Spanish outfit CARROTS towards success and now operates as PIGMY, does that in style. His third offering, “Manifestación” may be inspired by the 16th century alchemy treatise “Rosarium Philosophorum” – a philosophical work curious enough to interest Carl Jung – but this arresting album is much more than a compendium of pseudo olden music: there’s something deeper in the array of pieces which run from gothic to baroque to embrace timelessness.
From echo-drenched Gregorian chorale “Ut Queant Laxis” and Arcadian ballad “Almendros En Flor” whose strum and flute paint romantic panoramas for soft voice to flutter against and take the listener from acoustic to electric scenery, to the delicate guitar lace of “Lachriame Pavan” whence flamenco might be sourced, and the elegiac “Déjame Entrar” where violin lines spice up a bittersweet tune, there’s hardly a moment wasted on non-passionate musing. While the translucent “Incienso y Bengala” could evoke the Iberian spirit to enchant a medieval court even without woodwind curlicues, “Lo Sagrado En Lo Profano” wraps falsetto in synthesizer and organ, producing a solemnly progressive effect before heavy riffs assault the calm, and if the title track has a harder edge to its brass-smeared and sitar-scented effervescent pop, the shimmering filigree of “El Hombre Menguante” is possessed with honeyed harmonies.
Still, the record’s flow fails to prepare one’s ear to the light finale of “Septiembre” that threatens to undermine the entire endeavor, but instead signs it off with a display of ages-old genre influencing contemporary art. Pure miracle.