Arriving on the heels of a Scott Herren media frenzy, the second full-length from his alter ego Savath + Savalas, a collaboration with Barcelona-based singer/songwriter Eva Puyuelo Muns, will no doubt garner more attention than its predecessor Folk Songs for Trains, Trees and Honey. It will also no doubt confound those who thought they had Herren nicely labeled as that glitch-hop producer Prefuse 73. Apropa't is not the most accessible album, either for the casual listener or the ardent Prefuse fan; it is, however, sublimely relaxed in its "come hither" tones, which invite exploration, but do by no means promise explanation.
The official line is that the pair was brought together partly by a love of Brazilian
music and partly by a love of melancholy. And it is certainly a melancholic theme
that glues the album together. Which is not to say it's a drag to listen to.
On the contrary, the melancholia takes on a cathartic expression, perhaps representative
of how its producers were feeling as they created it, all strumming acoustic
guitars, meandering keys and muted, dusted drums.
Herren's Prefuse 73 persona can be found lightly fingering the soundscapes in
subtle places. There are glitchy elements to such tracks as "Interludio 44" and "Por
Que Ella Vino," in the string arrangements that hint at Herren's other lives. "Colores
Sin Nombre" has underlying tones of digital wizardry in a distorted bassline
submerged way down in the mix, and various other knob-twiddling effects. He blends
such effects seamlessly, using them to enhance the mood and tone, rather than
grating against it as you might expect.
Don't be surprised if it takes a good few listens to really crack the surface. Apropa't has a tendency at first to gently wash over you, striking no particular chord. But as you pay closer attention to the music, the melodic wash of it all becomes one of its addictive qualities. The tracks are short, clocking in around three minutes for the most part, and it is often hard to tell where one ends and another begins, especially since many of them seem to switch gear, mood and tempo midway through (e.g. "A La Nit"). In this way the duo offhandedly make traditional song and therefore album structure seemingly irrelevant. Once you submit yourself to this method, the music more fully realizes itself. The fact that the vocals are in Spanish should make little to no difference to the English-speaking listener for the most part they are so airily uttered that even if you understand Spanish, they may still just float over your head. But the vocals are harmoniously layered, and mixed down to merge at times with the other sounds, transforming them into another instrument, and another weave in the tapestry.
Apropa't maintains a quiet beauty that defies real explanation. Listening to the album and trying to explain or recall it in detail is like trying to remember a dream and all its nuances, even though its mood may stay with you all day. It will certainly garner increased respect for Herren's expansive skills, at the risk of unjustly overshadowing Muns' part in the creation. The work is clearly the result of a unique melding of musical minds that have created their own space in which to express themselves perfectly, and that fact demands respect. Apropa't will reveal different and perhaps contradictory elements upon each listening, and so will have you returning again and again to plumb the depths of its art.