Our Daily Bread 428: La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990

March 2, 2021

ALBUM REVIEW/DOMINIC VALVONA

Various ‘La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990’
(Bongo Joe) 5th March 2021

“The inner wave”, La Ola Interior is a welcome survey of Spain’s post-Franco explosion in underground experimentation; the kind that soaked up Jon Hassell and Eno’s collaborative “possible musics” game-changer peregrinations on the cusp of a new decade, as opposed to the nosier, more industrial and provocative generation X screams of Alex Carretero’s curated Spanish Underground Cassette Culture compilation, released back in 2018.  Both “waves” were lo fi, diy, and released in limited numbers, usually on cassette tapes, but one pontificated year zero intent, the other, opened itself to Hassell and Eno’s “fourth world” possibilities of amorphous ethnic-cultural blending.

As with that other redundant term “world music”, the fourth world title turn tag for a fecund of geographical sonic collages is, by perhaps those who are a little to sensitive, frowned upon for its connotations of post-colonialism: looking at anything outside the Western sphere as the “other”, “exotic”.

There’s a certain amount of that on this double album spread, put together for Bongo Records by Loïc Diaz Ronda. That is, weaving exoticism into the early development of post-punk electronic and ambient music. Some artists on this comp do that rather subtly; others bathe in its influence. And some do it rather well (sublime even), whilst others not so convincingly.

Mostly the preserve of the cultish and obscure, “Musica discrete” (as it’s referenced here) did also snare some iconic names, such as the ethno-transient trailblazers Finis Africae (probably one of the only names most people will be familiar with on this collection). Their utterly beguiling, entrancing and dreamy Popol Vuh mystical choral voices meet Talk Talk ‘Hybia’ and amorphous rain dance ritual ‘Hombres Lluvia’, are both borrowed for this sonic travelogue. Finis seemed much richer, more inventive as worldly musical travellers in an era when not many people could afford the luxury of physically visiting such exotic locations. Many artists made do with the traditional instruments of these cultural influences instead, bought in flea markets and such: used to various degrees of success on these interpretative and dreamt-up versions of seamless acid exotica.

Chronicling a movement that spring up in the dying embers of Franco’s regime, Ronda’s compiled world buffet of experiments features examples of early looping and sound sampling: sampling it must be said much of the sonic territories Hassell had already transformed on his own body of work. In that respect, tracks such as the compilation’s most fleeting vignette by Mecánica Popular (surely a twist on, or a knowing wink at the Teutonic sonic ensemble Populäre Mechanik) breathes in Hassell’s vague atmospheric blows across ambiguous map coordinates. Yet there’s also various Kosmische style riffing going on as well: Camino Al Desván, one of the only female sonic explorers to be featured in a male-dominated scene, oscillates mirror-y projections of Sky Records on the oft-trippy ‘La Contorsión De Pollo’ (or in translation, the rather odd “Chicken Contortion”); though her second contribution couldn’t be more different, ‘Fock Intimida A Gordi’ breaks out the industrial chemist set on a paranormal broadcast of neo-classical hauntings and static.   

Notable mentions on an exhaustive collection (linear notes included) are as follows: The Conny Plank proto-acid flash, zaps and laser-bouncing ‘Última Instancia’ by Orfeón Gagarin (more early Techno experiment than “ethnic” traverse); the Jules Verne oceanic submersible iron-lung ‘20000 Lenguas’ by Victor Nubla; the filmic, timpani bounding Arabian drama ‘Sheikh’ by Esplendor Geométrico; and the Popol Vuh (them again) Andean haunting ‘Flu’ by Eli Gras (the only other female to feature).  Bamboo music, garbled vague suggestions of gamelan, contoured bird-eye views of Morocco, flighty fluted soars and Indian swirls can also be heard, woven into ambient, trance and post-punk synthesised renderings on an album full of untapped forgotten traverses.

La Ola Interior is a well-researched and interesting compilation that fills in yet more of the electronic music story; especially in Southern Europe during the 80s. A worthy showcase of geographical transcendence and transformative immersions that deserves this curated effort.

You may also find the following posts from the Archives interesting:

Spanish Underground Cassette Culture

Notes From The Spanish Underground

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: