aries album

Aries – Juramento Mantarraya (La Castanya)

Although it’s very likely that this is the first time you’ve become acquainted with Isabel Fernández Reviriego, the 40-year-old Bilbao-born Spainard has been in the music game for a while already and has a diverse sound portfolio having recently provided singing vocals for the Spanish version of Cartoon Network animation Adventure Time, created an ambient soundtrack to a Stella McCartney short film and created all sound effects and music for cute Playstation 4 puzzler Melbits World. Isabel has also released four Spanish-language studio albums within her 22-year music career under the nom de plume Aries – named after her star sign.

Listening to Aries’ latest record Juramento Mantarraya you can imagine her experience in computer game soundtracks, as many elements of the compositions envision a rainbow-coloured coin-collecting platform universe or a fantasy adventure franchise. Furthermore, her Jill-of-all-trades try everything personality that has motivated her divergent catalogue also shines through on this record because on every track she experiments playfully with different types of synthesizer effects, sound samples and marching drum machines, which create multiple vibrant dreamy layers that are distinctively hers. Or as Aries calls it on her Bandcamp page: “Mind travelling sunshine pop”.

Opening title track ‘Juramento Mantarraya’ is an ode to Isabel Fernández Reviriego’s father and is an accurate introduction to the consistently unorthodox pop flavour of the album. Isabel’s sweet vocals are duplicated to create harmonies over a mystical and hazy synth soundscape while a soldier-stamping beat makes one feel that a long adventure has just begun for the song’s protagonist. Follow-up ‘Un Gran Puente’ (in English: the great bridge) is an addictive gem that includes a Latin guitar amongst the power-up videogame sounds to add variety and a slightly Spain-by-the-sea vibe. It’s worth noting that Isabel spent many years living in the lush coastal area of Vigo.

Other highlights on her fourth solo LP include ‘Space Cake’, which has an unusual wobbly hook created with a Buchla keyboard and is based on a weird experience that Isabel had when walking through a city intoxicated after digesting the cannabis-sprinkled treat of the song’s title. The experience made her rethink large portions of her life. While her technique of using Spanish-language samples on some tracks (‘Error Perpetuo’ and ‘Un día cualquiera’) that sound if they are recorded from telenovelas and Latin soap operas is also a nice touch, but requires a knowledge of Spanish to truly appreciate their significance to the record.

Aries’s album is inventive and rule-breaking but the sheer amount of layers on some tracks and its disorientated structure can be too overwhelming and nauseous at times and in a slightly contradictory manner the album actually gets predictable and tiresome in its unpredictable time signature shifting, blip selection and Isabel’s syrupy voice.

Good cases in point are ‘Dolce Far Niente’ (the only track with an Italian title) and ‘La mejor sensación’, which contain tripping-over-your-feet percussion that are so messy that they distract from the track’s other elements and are hard to enjoy. ‘El Camino’s simple yet effective twinkle and hallucinogenic nature demonstrate that stripping back and simplifying the experimentation can be rewarding.

In astrology, those with the Aries star sign are passionate, motivated and confident leaders who through their cheerful nature bring together communities. This is what Aries attempts to do with her lyrics. As shown also by the album cover of different characters which are visual representation of the track (which resembles Glass Animals‘ How To Be a Human Being’ record sleeve) Juramento Mantarraya celebrates human differences (‘Un Gran Puente’), imperfections (‘Error Perpetuo’) and varied perspectives (‘Space Cake’), as well as appreciating the everyday quirks (‘Un día cualquiera’). In times of conflict, ignorance and racial hatred, these are important messages indeed.

 

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.