Born in Vigo, but now based in Barcelona, Laura León created the film Percepciones de un Silencio, and this new album is a collection of ‘film scores’ intended as the soundtrack to the film. There are twelve wildly contrasting, yet strangely cohesive entries in this collaborative project, and each of them is intriguing in its own way.
The project features musicians from “across the Mediterranean (both European and African), the Middle East, Spanish-speaking Latin America, South-East Asia among others”. This diversity only serves to highlight the breadth and scope of the project. To call it ambitious would be doing it a disservice.
As well as the film project (available for free, with the music attached, on YouTube), there is an accompanying magazine – itself a work of art. There are moments, across this whole project, that seem to drawn from some celestial body, such is their divine inspiration. The film itself does not change across the twelve versions – it is only the music that changes. This makes the project seem almost kaleidoscopic – each piece of music changes the feel and atmosphere of the film itself. Put simply, it would be like seeing the Mona Lisa while listening to David Bowie, then seeing it while listening to Vivaldi: the sounds you here while observing it ultimately change the way you perceive it.
The twelve ‘scores’ that make up the album are pointless as single pieces – which furthers the notion that this is a project that needs to be absorbed as a whole. There is little point hearing or seeing snatches of the entire thing, as you lose the context for each component part. Each of the pieces adds to the power of the visual artefact.
Arthur Zerktouni’s music is like breath on a frozen morning: it drifts, formlessly, away into the frigid atmosphere. It’s amongst the most chilling of the pieces. Verónica Daniela Cerrotta’s piece plays like a field recording from an office.
James Vella’s contribution resembles the ambient soundscapes of Brian Eno and William Basinski – particularly the dreamy, childlike quality of the recording. It’s charmingly nostalgic and pretty, whereas Filipino “hardware hacker and experimental musician” Erick Calilan’s piece is terrifying and tense. The presskit said that it would ‘sit alongside Ben Frost or Wolf Eyes’, and it’s hard to disagree. The piece is loaded with creeping dread, made up entirely of a horrifying white-noise blizzard. Like a tape recording an exorcism.
There are many other fascinating pieces, some of them indescribable. However, this project is not one to be completely dissected and talked about. It’s something to experience, and something new. In 2018, we are faced with a dearth of new, creative thinking – but Laura León and her collaborators have shown that fantastic art can come from the simplest of notions.