It’s finally in our hands, after that appetizer of “Mr. Shoji” danceable hit with Jamaican airs, Rockdelux magazine’s best song of 2009), the highly anticipated second disc by SINGLE, the group led by Teresa Iturrioz and Ibon Errazkin. And now that we’ve got the disc in our hands, we can say that we are holding the most complete, consistent, enduring and highest achieving disc of their career. Saying something like that, in Teresa and Ibon’s case, is saying quite a lot.
Anyone who knows the cult-following they had fronting LE MANS will find some clues on this disc that connect this mythical past to the splendorous future that has opened up before them with this new project. If “Pío Pío”, SINGLE’s first album, was a collecting of songs written over a period of years, experimenting with new formats, rhythms and programs, and forging a new path with their untiring curiosity, “Monólogo interior” is a more classic and compact album, without a conceptual story but definitely with a more intimate focus, even introspective on occasions. The album has an abundance of images that evoke feelings of loss and nostalgia and it is less decidedly rhythmic.
Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that the fun, danceable rhythms that were part of what made the first disc so spectacular have been put to the side: there’s the dreamy, orchestral rhythm of “Fotos”, the futuristic tango of “Oda a los negros”, Latin vibes of “Gracias a la vida” and the frenetic instrumentals of “Monólogo interior” (the song). But, in this case, the rhythms shed their sophistication in order to embrace a more retro sound, from a vintage beatbox, that contrasts perfectly with the futuristic keyboard and synthesizer arrangements. Especially with the galactic synths included by Genís Segarra (ASTRUD, HIDROGENESSE) in almost all of the songs on the disc, profiling the personality of each song with details dignified to be by Jean-Jacques Perrey, by Joe Meek or other more contemporary cybernetic dreamers like ISAN.
And what can be said about the austere and beautiful work by Javier Aramburu, that continues to surprise on every album cover for the group, finding new and ever more precious ways to portray Teresa. The cover of “Monólogo interior” is like a lost Vermeer painting, full of serene and mysterious beauty. With a cover like this, there is a special pleasure in the moment you take the disc out of the case, put it in the player and wait for the sound of the equally beautiful, serene and mysterious music.
Teresa, on this disc, is more than ever the central-european styled diva of the song, a Brigitte Fontaine or an Ingrid Caven playing the pop of the future: adult music and at the same time insatiably young, forever looking ahead with its feet planted firmly in the best and most relevant and original of the past.
“Monólogo interior” begins majestically with “Todo cambia en un instante”, an incredible tour de force recorded live with all the musicians playing together in the studio, with purely magical vocal arrangements that give you goosebumps just from listening to them. Songs like “Chinese white” (with simple, straightforward lyrics, but also intelligent and rigorous, in the style of the best VAINICA DOBLE, with out-of-this-world arrangements), “Pensamiento” (driven by the arpeggios of the Spanish guitar, clear inheritance of LE MANS) or the marvelous “En el restaurante” (a beautiful melody that begins and ends with an oriental-styled passage evocative of Robert Kirby’s arrangements for Nick Drake), mark the calmer, more classic part of the disc. “Miau” is a brief song of feline elegance that serves as a balance between the serenity and the frenetic stampede of all kinds of keyboards in the title track, which is anything but introspective, as if MADNESS played in the intergalactic canteen in Star Wars. Even more colorful is that version of “Gracias a la vida”, the universal song by Violeta Parra, that the group has been playing live for a long time now. This version is based on the Joan Baez’s interpretation, which they sample as homage, but their version has an air of the Latin American popular dance, which pushes the folk focus of previous versions out of the way.
“Posponías” is another of those highlighted moments of the disc, a contagious melody that revolves around a waltz-step, with yet another brilliant set of lyrics, Genis’ synthesizer-whistle arrangements that turn into the melodic hook, and a magnificent guitar solo by Ibon. The video for this song, directed by Miguel Gutiérrez de Bergareche, was recorded in a single, continuous shot in the Luna movie theater in Madrid, and the designer Carlos Díez participated.
After the return to classic heterodoxy with songs like “La cama” (and its keyboards and violins in the style of Jean-Jacques Perrey) and “La ola” (a beautiful and melancholy song of northern summers), this fabulous disc, which grows on you with each listen, ends with two brief reprises: “Pensamiento 2” and “Un breve instante”, the final coda that links with the initial song and closes the circle with a final, deep note, with the same majestic solemnity it began with.
On all levels, SINGLE have made an instant classic, a huge disc that will do nothing if it doesn’t grow into a longed-for cult-object. Once again, and now more than ever, we must take off our hats to SINGLE.
Tracklist: 01. Todo cambia en un instante 02. Fotos 03. Chinese White 04. Posponías 05. Pensamient 06. ¡Miau! 07. En el restaurante 08. Gracias a la vida 09. Monólogo interior 10. La cama 11. Oda a los negros 12. La ola 13. Pensamiento nº 2 14. Un breve instante