Yamila’s first album warms up slow but steady.
Personally, abstract and analogue projects are my musical blind spots. Try as I might to keep up with them, certain genres elude me. Conversely, there are those whose entire palate revolves around this type of music. With social media, YouTube and Spotify, virtually every song lies at one’s keystrokes. This accessibility applies to all music, but from there a secondary form comes into play: the accessibility of sound. Qualities like a 4/4 time signature, major chords and basic rhyme schemes appear often in pop music because, well, they’re popular. This means certain genres, particularly experimental ones that choose not to incorporate such qualities, may lose accessibility, and thus popularity.
Roughly translated, Spanish cellist and experimental producer Yamila says she imagines worlds where fringe-lying abstract music exists in the mainstream. One of the most “mainstream” elements of an artist is sonic accessibility, an area where her debut album Iras Fajro succeeds. The titular promise of opener “I Will Protect You” holds throughout the record, where Yamila eases the listener through the pleasingly unconventional.
Though much experimental drone or pop deliberately uses abrasiveness for expression, this album sees no issue in keeping its productions sonically pleasant. One falls easily into something like “Light Blue,” where Yamila’s layered soprano, woodblocks, sleigh bells and kickdrums coalesce into something strange yet vibrant. The muffled synths of the appropriately named “Purple Cats” conjure psychedelic imagery that’s equally captivating. Moments may become unnerving, such as the distant wails and howls of “Thousands of Darts,” but the chords rarely become dissonant and the percussion typically just keeps things steady.
As a singer, Yamila shares Yukimi Nagano’s talent for stretching thin, slightly out-of-tune vocals across songs. She’s never quick to get through a word or to reach a pitch; like much of Iras Fajro, her singing eases into itself so that it may grow. “Vivamos” proves this as it builds from Yamila’s echoed crooning and cello into a chorus of operatic vocals and alien-style electronic elements.
For listeners in search of something different but welcoming, Iras Fajro makes a good case for itself. The title means something to the effect of “will become fire.” Much like a spark grows into a flame, Yamila’s first album warms up slow but steady. When you step away from it, you realize its heat left a stronger impression than you might have expected.