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Earzumba - Simulando un Refugio

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Artist: Earzumba

Album: Simulando un Refugio

Label: Old Gold

Review date: Mar. 9, 2006

Like my Bat Mitzvah (and Seth Cohen’s), Simulando un Refugio ends with “That’s What Friends Are For.” Burt Bacharach is about as unexpected on an album by a founding member of Reynols as he is natural at B’nai Mitzvot. Beyond Reynols being shorthand for another Burt (Reynolds), how did Bacharach get here?

Before Burt arrives, Earzumba (Christian Dergarabedian) indeed spends most of this project simulating a refuge. In the grainy cover photo, a woman (post-Soviet Russian, perhaps?) in incongruous, blindingly-white high heels stands with her back to us in a birch forest. It reflects the tone of the album, a tale of apparent peace told by an unreliable narrator. Constructed as a continuous mix, Simulando un Refugio tells the type of horrifying story that is certain to resolve in a happy ending for its protagonists. The song titles suggest what may be happening at each juncture, the characters lost, enslaved, working, building, free, celebrating.

Dergarabedian uses a wide palette of sounds in assembling his sonic pictures. Shimmering, minor-key theremin effects form the basis of the album and create a panoramic effect, like the pieces are seen through a zoom lens. Over this canvas, animals continually growl and caw, and prisoners rattle chains that morph into bells. The first half sounds generally sinister, but the mood begins to lighten on “Words in the Book,” a catchy guitar melody. The penultimate track, “Simulating a Refuge,” seems to contain the voices of aliens offering redemption.

The alien voices escalate, and then the party really gets started, for “Celebrating Together,” Simulando un Refugio’s last track, is a screamingly scary, nightmare-carnivalesque mashup of dozens of songs played over top of one another. The particular combination of songs must contribute to the shade produced, but one can imagine a genre of double-digit mashups, a paint set all in different hues of brown. Here, the songs weave in and out of each other so that the piece pulsates and trembles. Snippets of unintelligible voices are reversed, like the characters in the Red Room in Twin Peaks. At times they are simultaneously present, a choir. The differences in length provide a natural structure, a crescendo and decrescendo. The threshold for recognition occurs when about four tracks remain; showtunes disassociate themselves from the mix, then the sounds of guitar and disco, then just Burt and his fake oboe remain.

In the end, the cheese stands alone.

By Josie Clowney

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