Imbued by the touch of Stereolab's Tim Gane and Sean O' Hagan, Torres Blancas is a majestical trip back to the haze of '60s west coast USA
Spanish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Guillermo Farré releases his third long player for Madrid based Lovemonk Records on May 12th. Inspired by his meetings and recordings with Tim Gane (Stereolab), Torres Blancas is a gorgeous slice of sun-soaked, haze-filled pop music with additional orchestral input from Sean O Hagan (Stereolab, The High Llamas) and effects and tape loops from lo-fi pop protege Maston.
Imagine the Beach Boys hosting a party with The Carpenters and Stereolab (think Dots and Loops) on the guest list. It's stiflingly hot and it's all taking place at David Hockney's ‘Hollywood Swimming Pool’. Torres Blancas is a throwback to a rose tinted era where vocal harmonies and wistful melodies collage and uplift. It profers a sense of achievement lyrically, and through its bold compositions and delicate washes of orchestral arrangements.
Wild Honey is the brainchild of Guillermo Farré and it is Madrid in Spain where he wrote his his third solo album. His previous records Epic Handshakes and a Bear Hug (2009) and Big Flash (2013) were both sung in English. Returning to his Spanish mother tongue has allowed greater expression and was part of a process of coming to terms with a mini mid-30s life crisis. Previous uncertainty over lifestyle choices, city, job, family and friends has, to some extent, been answered. Torres Blancas is not only the title of the new record, it's also an enormous residential building in the north of Madrid. For fifteen years Guillermo walked past nonchalantly, often ridiculing its presence, but now it is a source of beauty and pride for this rejuvenated artist. A tranquility and acceptance has arisen and Wild Honey embodies this new state of being.
Working alongside Stereolab's Tim Gane for Big Flash was a dream come true for Guillermo. From being a superfan to a friend and mentoree, Guillermo worked with him in his ramshackle Berlin studio – an enlightening process where he learned nuanced tricks of production and utilised his vast instrument and studio kit knowledge. Three years later Guillermo recorded his latest with another Stereolab band mate, Sean O'Hagan, whose orchestral arrangements added further layers to Wild Honey's cake-like compositions. The omnipresent vocals are that of Anita Steinberg who has been part of the Wild Honey set up from day one. Additional vocals come from Aries AKA Isabel Reveriego (K Records) in the mysterious track 'Horoscopo' and of course, that's Guillermo's voice that flows and washes throughout the whole record. LA based Maston is part of a new breed of highly acclaimed producers labelled by Pitchfork as a "bedroom pop genius". His input at the end of the production process brought in a tropicalia vibe using tape delays, tuning down wurlitzers and as Guillermo notes "creating that feel of music made under the sea".
A self-confessed film geek who, by day, works for classic films channel, Guillermo always looks back before he steps forward. He has an ongoing thirst for everything retro, psychedelic and pop from the likes of Italian film soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone, drummer Hal Blaine, The Beach Boys and even Katy Perry. Yet it's the late twentieth century composers that he evidently draws closer to in terms of production similarities and textures - Sufjan Stevens, Todd Rundgren and of course, Stereolab.
'Desenfocada' meaning 'out of focus' is a song that perfectly encapsulates Guillermo’s initial feeling when he started out writing Torres Blancas. It's about a woman that realises that in every photo she has of herself, she's out of focus. Slightly fuzzy in a production sense and meaning, it's perhaps the bounciest track of the set. Lead track 'El volcan de Montserrat' acts as a preamble and intro with piano and vocal harmonies building the atmosphere and then suddenly the title track of the record releases lush violins and violas purposefully accenting the structure of the song. There's also some gazing at others, notably in 'Ojo de Cristal', in which he recognises distinct similarities between him and his old man.
Wild Honey nourishes throughout with a clear aesthetic vision. The tough third album, it's surely his most accomplished, after tutelage from his musical heroes and now enjoying a new lease of freedom from writing in Spanish.
releases April 28, 2017
All songs written, recorded and produced by Guillermo Farré.
Recorded at Sunshine between January and October, 2016. Drums recorded by Carlos Toronado at Zona Temporalmente Autónoma (except El volcán de Montserrat and Siguiendo a desconocidos, recorded by Dany Richter at El Lado Izquierdo).
Mixed at El Lado Izquierdo by Dany Richter and mastered by Jim DeMain at Yes Master.
José María Rubio: drums
Javier Lorente: bass
Anita Steinberg: backing vocals
Frank Maston: effects
Adrián Ceballos: drums (El volcán de Montserrat and Siguiendo a desconocidos)
Isabel F. Reviriego: backing vocals (Horóscopo)
Raúl Gil: trumpet and flugelhorn
String arrangements on Torres blancas, Ojo de cristal, Leopardo and Acantilado by Sean O'Hagan. Recorded at Press Play Studios by Andy Ramsey. Musicians: Raja Halder (violin), Patrick Savage (violin), Alexi Sarkissov (cello), Cindy Foster (violin).
String arrangements on El volcán de Montserrat by David Velasco Bartolomé. Recorded at El lado izquierdo by Dany Richter. Musicians: Marc Contreras (violin), Pablo Paniagua Calvo (violin), Encarni García Contreras (violin), José Gabriel Nuñez (violin), Luis Miguel Hernandez (viola), David Velasco Bartolomé (viola).