EP Review: Amparo: Rains

‘Each track is a masterclass in how minimalistic music should be.’

Listen to these tracks on the Spotify Playlist here

​Intro to Amparo:
While not new to releasing music, the sound of Arizona based Amparo’s latest release ‘Rains,’ sees a slight, but immensely beautiful departure from previous tracks. Heavily inspired by its writing location – the woodlands surrounding Gothenburg, Sweden – the tracks featured draw you into a musical world where less, is most definitely more. [Read the full interview here]

Featured Track 1: Ruby
Setting the EP off in an immediately dreamy, minimalistic way, the opening track ‘Ruby’ surrounds your ears with beauty. Delicate in nature, it’s not hard to imagine sitting among the wilderness and as the gentle panning of picked guitar and ambient samples emerge, you are transported to a bliss filled place.

As the track progresses, the highly ambient, almost experimental sound continues, and as it does, the relaxing sound turns into a magical one. Sitting effortlessly on top of continuing half-scalic guitar lines, an even more delicate (if that’s even possible) guitar line is heard. Formed of single, echoing and panning, high-pitched notes, it takes you further into Amparo’s musical world. Continuing to entice us further, another wonderfully musical touch – in the form of the piano chords – beautifully compliments the entirely instrumental sound. However, a subtle, change is about to occur.

Bringing an additional element to the track, a vocal suddenly joins the immensely atmospheric, dreamlike sound. However, don’t expect this vocal to be one you can sing along to. While you may well have come to think that the best music of today’s music scene has to have certain hallmarks – catchy choruses and memorable storytelling being just two – this isn’t what ‘Ruby’, or Amparo’s music as a whole is about. Emerging in a beautifully reflective way, the sampled spoken vocal of ‘I remember what it feels like to be with you’ occurs and in doing so, gently moves you.

Having successfully caught us off guard, the track returns to its previous instrumental focus. However, as it does, the increasingly ambient texture continues and with gently phasing ideas that wouldn’t be out-of-place in a work by Steve Reich, you become completely enthralled. As an opener, it’s a totally immersive listening experience.

Featured Track 2: Lidkoeb
Having been left wanting more, Track 2 ‘Lidkoeb’ gives us just that. However, while there are similarities between this and the tracks either side, the use of glitchy vocal samples, ensures that we will be taken somewhere different. Seeming to echo around, as though bouncing of the trees, there is definitely an air of disorientation. However, as this fades into background, paired minimalistic electric guitar lines take the lead. Suddenly the disorientation disappears.

Moving through the first section, the idea of gentle phasing – established in the opening track – remains very much a key feature. And what a highly successful one it is. However, this time, unlike before, the lead guitar lines are given the chance to shine before the additional elements enter. Essentially based on broken chords, it’s an incredibly simple way of composing, but like the use of phasing, it’s also highly successful. In setting the track up in this way, the atmosphere within really comes through and it quickly becomes clear that ‘Lidkoeb’ will be even more minimalist in sound.

As the track progresses, the glitchy samples introduced at the start, mostly remain in the background, and in doing so, the repetitive fragment melodies are given a chance to shine. Joining with the first, a second, highly contrasting guitar motif gently fades in. Like the previous one, its success lies in its simplicity. However, as they begin to interweave, new, full melodies emerge. Restrained throughout, it’s a highly beautiful track and as a final fragment, in the form of a piano motif emerges, you remain as immersed as you were at the start.

Featured Track 3: Balderdash 
Bringing contrast to the EP, the third and final track, ‘Balderdash’ sets off at a much quicker pace. Initially feeling like a bit of a jolt away from what we have experienced to this point, you feel a little concerned that the beauty of Amparo’s music won’t be as apparent. However, there is no need for concern, because, as I hinted at earlier, the musical hallmarks that have made this such a wonderful listen are very much there.

Built on a set of seven quaver notes, the opening guitar melody may initially feel hurried, purposeful even. However, for this exact reason, it creates the perfect rhythmic accompaniment for the forthcoming layers to sit on. Repeating almost relentlessly throughout, each note echoes and in doing so effortlessly blends with the next, creating a truly dreamlike atmosphere. Yes I’ve said that earlier, but this really does push it to another, noteworthy level.

While the opening atmosphere could quite happily continue – for me at least – we do get contrast. This time though, it’s not in the form of vocals, or glitchy samples. Instead it is in the form of ‘true’ melodic content. Every fragment has a reason for being there and with each one joining the already established ones, a wonderful sense of depth to the sound comes to the fore.

While the majority of these seamlessly overlapping melodies are, like the previous tracks, electric guitar based, each one feels new and unlike the ones before. However, even though this is the case, the inclusion of more orchestrally influenced layers, such as sustained, low-pitched string bass line and bell like vibraphone melody, add an even more beautiful edge to Amparo’s sound.

‘Rains’ is out to purchase on iTunes now and you keep up to date with Amparo’s musical progress on Twitter.

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