Boomkat Product Review:
Fast becoming one of the most crucial archival imprints around, Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman's Freedom To Spend takes us down another largely unfamiliar musical wormhole with this first time reissue of a beautifully rich take on American Minimalism from Valencian artist, Pep Llopis, originally released in 1987.
And it’s definitely a curio, somehow filling a mental gap in our minds between Les Disques Du Crépuscule’s obsession with Wim Mertens’ overt romanticism and the American minimalism of Reich, Glass and La Monte Young or their modern counterparts Maxwell Sterling, or even 0PN. The result is a sound that’s really quite hard to place; orchestral, brimming with ideas, narrated with a kind of detached sound poetry that has no obvious reference points.
As the label explains, “This record is meant to be enjoyed like a seascape. It offers a Mediterranean journey, one that Ulysses, Aeneas, and Jason with his Argonauts charted first and Pep Llopis, retraced and retread — from the islands of Menorca to Santorini. All of his experiences are aboard this vessel of sound: no format in mind, no course but the chasm within self. The music gently laps against listening skin— sometimes placid, sometimes shimmering. Ripples of sound swell and quicken. Flutes like schools of fish. The spray of chimes. Taught strings break like the shore. Tingling, undulating synths. The record cover acts as a map, tracing the forms of the original art and providing the poems in Catalan and Spanish.”
It reminds us of Mamangakis’ sprawling soundtrack to the first two series of Edgar Reitz’s Heimat, effortlessly spinning delicate Minimalism and Sound Art through a kind of unapologetic inclusiveness. It’s also very much a release borne from a belief that avant-garde composition doesn't have to be elitist in form, resulting in an album of memorable and moving sound worlds unlike much that we’ve heard before.
Perhaps most importantly, though, it establishes Freedom To Spend as one of those rare labels that you should allow yourself to be blindly guided by. Wherever Swanson and Bindeman choose to take us next, we’re there.