Mabe Fratti: Se Ve Desde Aquí Album Review

Mabe Fratti’s music tends to pull in opposite directions, torn between friction and release. in 2019 Feet on the ground and 2021 Will we be able to understand each other now?, the Guatemalan-born, Mexico City-based cellist, composer, and singer created vast green worlds from tangled loops and layers. Those albums were noted for their fullness: lilting cello lines and Fratti’s high-pitched, whining voice, often multi-tracked or Auto-Tuned, weaved over dense thickets of synth and reverb. His songs could be chaotic—tendrils of noise, like the hum of a burnt-out amplifier, could slip under even the most angelic refrain—but the main characteristic of him was an overwhelming sense of longing, expressed in search of vocal melodies. If those first two records were lush, leafy gardens, the new one, seen from here, It’s a desert. Fratti’s music has always been beautiful, but this is a different, bolder beauty: raw and severe, capturing the cracked earth below and the radiant sweep of the night sky above.

The change is immediately apparent on “Con Esfuerzo,” the instrumental sketch that opens the album. Dissonant arcs shine over churning synths, a faltering drum beat, and a burst of bent acoustic guitar. There is a feeling that something is building: summoned spirits or a gathering storm. In the past, much of Fratti’s best work manifested itself when he reached the zone where the elements mixed, as if he were feeling his way toward clarity; here, the mystery deepens as you recede.

The next track, “Desde el cielo,” is the first proper song on the album, but it’s just as skeletal. He plays a bass line on his cello; the synth sounds like a howling wind. “Out, out,” he sings, his voice sure despite his hesitant tone. Beneath her, an atonal swirl of sax, drums and guitar suggests a fusion of free jazz and ambient, charged with the energy of spontaneous creation. Throughout the album, he is assisted by a handful of tremendously talented collaborators, including multi-instrumentalist Héctor Tosta, electronic musician Carla Boregas, violinist Alina Maldonado, drummer Gibrán Andrade, and saxophonist Jarrett Gilgore, whose spectral glimmer of silver illuminates several of the most outstanding songs of the disc. exciting moments. Regardless of how it was recorded, it feels like a group of players jamming together in real time. Yet despite the intricacy of the tumbling movements on “From Heaven,” the void yawns between each instrument. It is less a linear piece of music than a space to enter and inhabit, a dwelling, perhaps a refuge.

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Stripped of electronic processing, Fratti’s voice is punchier than on previous albums; the air of refinement that sometimes clung to her singing has vanished. Her tone is still smooth and breathy, and in places even thin, imbued with a quick, edgy vibrato, but she takes bolder leaps, happy to lean into imperfection. There is also a newfound confidence in her composition. She is often reminiscent of both Arthur Russell and Kate Bush, not only in her melodic choices, but also in her ability to blend the intuitive with the unknown, to make the alien seem like second nature.

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