Federico Aubele

Federico Aubele

Back in the dim wooden floored room. Smoky amber light. Heavy red drapes cover the walls. The old mirror that’s reflected your thousand faces throughout the years, captures your image once again, sitting on the sofa. The deep sound of the bass crawls slowly on the floor, passes between you feet. The soft notes of the guitar and vocals floating on top of it, like black velvet butterflies. Like Absinth.

Patiently crafted over 2 years in his Brooklyn studio, the new Federico Aubele Album, 5, takes you to that room. And you don’t want to leave. You want to dive into that narcotic sway and remain there. Aubele works alone, like a fisherman waiting for the tide, painstakingly, making sure every sound marries the other elements on the track.

“I like working like a painter, by myself, in my atelier. Or like a writer. Technology now a days allows you to be the producer, writer and engineer” says Aubele “It’s an intimate process for me, and I need to respect that intimacy. I can’t work If I have people around, talking. For a lot of people, making music is a social experience, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t work like that for me. The social part for me comes afterwards, when I’m on stage performing with my band, in front of a crowd”.

Aubele’s hunting signature sound, with its precise beats, scattered bandoneon samples, nylon string guitar, dark atmospherics and male and female vocal contrast give space this time also to several cinematic tripped out tango infused instrumentals. “I always loved instrumental music. From Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother, to Piazzolla’s album Pulsacion, to Baden Powell’s Afro Sambas to Boards of Canada. It grabs you in a different way than if you have vocals. When there’s no lyrics, a barrier lifts up and the music connects direct with other areas of your subconscious, often with emotions that are hard to put in words”.

The album moves at midnight tempos, with carefully written melodies, both on the songs and on the instrumentals. “The melody is what really catches your attention. It’s like a thread, like a story. I always need the melody. It guides you through the night”. The opening track “Somewhere Else,” features a collaboration by Jazz chanteuse Melody Gardot. Her smoky vocals floating on a slow but heavy beat making a natural contrast with Aubele’s low baritone, sounding like something from another era. Long time collaborator Natalia Clavier also appears on 2 songs, with her dramatic yet crystal clear voice. Mauro Refosco (Atoms for Peace) plays percussion on the slow motion tripped out-latin “Carrousel sin Fin”, and legendary NY jazz saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin plays Blade-Runner-esque lines to an obsessive dub beat on “El Mago”.

As always with Aubele, the combination of elements that would otherwise sound impossible, make sense, grabbing you and taking you back to that room, somewhere out there in space or in a dream.

Leif Vollebekk

“A friend told me it was Saturn returns and that may be true. I was about to turn thirty and I knew that if I didn’t change direction I was going to end up exactly where I was headed.”

At the end of Leif Vollebekk’s twenties, his own songs didn’t sound right. He had spent an entire year on the road, playing almost 100 shows, but every night his favourite moment came only right at the end, covering a song by Ray Charles or Townes Van Zandt. Every time he got home from tour he took a hot shower and lay still under a window, listening to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, feeling saved, wondering why his own music didn’t give him that. Why the songs he had written himself always felt like so much work.

He booked himself a secret show. One night only at a Montreal dive bar – not to play his own songs but other people’s. Leif found a rhythm section and they rehearsed once. Then midnight unspooled. Leif called it the most fun he had ever had playing music: Ray Charles and Tom Waits over a locked groove; Bob Dylan and Kendrick Lamar over a slow pulse. The light was dark blue and purple.

It was time, Leif understood, to make a dark blue and purple record. An album of locked groove and slow pulse, heavy as a fever. And the lesson he learned from singing all those other people’s songs was that none of those other artists seemed worried about anything except laying down their own souls, flat out. “I used to think, ‘This will be kinda like a Neil Young song,’ ‘This will be kinda like a Bob Dylan song,’” he recalled. “I kinda ran out of people to imitate. And then there was just me.”

His first new song came to him on his bicycle. He wasn’t thinking, wasn’t trying, but the rhythm, the chords, the melody – it all just fluttered up. He tried at first to let it go: the song was wasn’t meticulous enough, it wasn’t studied or conceived. The next morning it still came back to him, incontestable. “I told myself, ‘You’re never saying ‘no’ to a song ever again,’” Leif said. “I realized I had been saying ‘no’ to a lot of songs, over the years.” Twin Solitude is what happened when Leif stopped saying no. The songs started coming so fast: fully formed, impossible. “Vancouver Time” took 15 minutes; “Telluride” took less. It was as if the songs were waiting for him. Instead of obsessing about the details of recording, “I just showed up to the studio and went, ‘Let’s see what happens.’”

What happened was, they got it: “Big Sky Country” and its patient, coasting tranquility, “Into the Ether”, which rides to reverie with the Brooklyn string duo Chargaux. There’s “East of Eden”, an interpolation of Gillian Welch, which doesn’t seem like it ever ought to end. For a beautiful album, Twin Solitude is deceptively brave, filled with unexpected refrains. “When the cards get stuck together / so hard to pull them apart,” Leif sings, “I think your face is showing.” Then: “Ain’t the first time that it’s snowing.”

Yet in its heart, above all, Twin Solitude is a gesture back to Leif’s long nights under a pink moon, when a record was the only thing that could keep him company. Besides a wink to Hugh MacLennan’s novel Two Solitudes, this is the unlonely loneliness of the album’s title. “It isn’t a record I made for other people – it’s the one I made for myself,” Leif said. “It’s the album I wish I could have put on.”

Listen to it in a rental car in cold weather, with the windows all rolled up. Listen to it laying by an open window. Listen to it all the way through, alone. “By the time the last notes die away, all that’s left should be you,” Leif told me. “And I’ll be somewhere else. And that’s Twin Solitude.”

$17.00

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