MIGALA: Arde: CD

Their story goes something like this: a group of “non-musicians” get together “to make classic songs with an uncanny atmosphere.” Their 1997 debut, “Diciembre 3AM,” garnishes much acclaim in their native Spain. By 1998, the sextet’s second release established the band across the European continent. They opened for the Magnetic Fields, Smog and Piano Magic; performed as Will Oldham’s band for the artists’ last tour of Spain; and caught the attention of former Belle and Sebastian conspirator and Looper mastermind, Stuart David, who, in turn, makes Migala fans out of the people at Sub Pop. Thus, came Migala’s U.S. debut. Originally released on Christmas Eve, 2000 by Acuarela Discos, “Arde” (“it burns”), is nothing if not an eclectic release. “Primera Parada,” the album’s opening track, with its subtle surf guitars and gentle clash of symbols, rolls across the speakers like a tide slowly rising. Migala then moves into “El Caballo Del Malo,” which is more-than-slightly reminiscent of old Western movies with gusts of electronic noise blowing between guitars like a tumbleweed rolling between the man in white and the man in black. “Times of Disaster” mixes a hushed, but slightly gravely and heavily accented, voice and somber beats with samples that could have very well been lifted from Red Asphalt and what seems to be a frantic conversation between a man and a woman in Spanish. On “La Espera,” the band utilizes a string section to create the sort of heartbreakingly romantic feel that one might find on a Tindersticks’ album. Despite the variety of sounds represented on this album, Migala maintains a sense of continuity throughout the course of “Arde.” Each track fits together so that, when listening to the album as a whole, listeners may forget where track three ends and track four begins, which makes it great for late night listening.

 –liz (Sub Pop)