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[Off The Record]
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This Madrid six-piece make their American bow with 14 tracks of arid, smoldering melancholia. The more eccentric and engaging tunes — "Times of Disaster," for one — forge an electro-folk synthesis of acoustic instrumentation, soft electronica, analog keyboards, deadpan vocals, and bleak, recorded sounds of cars crashing. Elsewhere, Migala’s kitchen-sink approach to songwriting maintains a subtlety and grace that echo the dark troubadour poetics of Leonard Cohen and the deserted desert tones of Arizona’s Calexico (minus that band’s mariachi flourishes).

No surprise that they recently played as Will Oldham’s backing band on his tour of Spain — their quirky folk-rock æsthetic is right up the Palace Brother’s twisted alley. But Arde relies as much on sad tones and texture as it does on literal storytelling. Like Calexico’s The Black Light, the disc comes off as a soundtrack of sorts, a backdrop for a postmodern film about travel, discovery, and turbulent emotions. It ends gracefully with its title track, a slow-building orchestral crescendo that goes on for nearly seven minutes before flickering one last time and disappearing like a dying fire in the hearth.


Issue Date: November 29 - December 6, 2001

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