Words Ian Hawkins.
In a dream one night I found myself at a raging party, when I stepped through a door into a room with a dimly lit pool in it. The water was cool and blue, the tiles red & black. I jumped in and as I floated, suspended in motion, I heard music coming from giant speakers in the side of the pool. The unmistakeable sound of Magic Dirt was pulsating through the liquid, the tone filtered and murky.
Magic Dirt axeman, Raül Sanchez i Jorge has recently put out his second solo record, Masks, (as he also played all the instruments on Midnight Woolf’s original release, it’s counted as his first), and it’s best described as sounding like fragments from a dream.
“Just yesterday I dreamt I was playing with PJ Harvey” Raul tells me when I ask him if he’s hears music in his sleep. “I dream music and about music all the time, I’ve written songs that came to me in dreams, its nuts! The hard bit then is remembering it and getting it down before it evaporates.”
We’ve all had that experience. That song, that painting, that idea, it was great in our dream, but what the hell was it?
Using a cassette 8 track, a dat machine and a bit of mixing wizardry on a P.C, Raul has taken all those songs and fragments that didn’t fit into any other project over the past seven years and put together an album of slow, graceful and ambient drone music, punctuated occasionally by searing feedback and noise.
“It’s all pretty mellow. I guess most of the stuff is pretty introspective and moody, perhaps even dark and sad. In a way I guess it’s the other side of the coin to all the high energy garage rock’n’roll that I love to play.”
Upon my first listen I heard a parallel between Masks and the later works of Seattle drone band Earth and Pink Floyd’s Obscured By Clouds. Repeating chord patterns, reverb drenched guitar tones and the beautiful use of negative space makes Masks come from a vein of music that manages to be morose and heavy whilst also being light and mellow at the same time.
“My biggest influence for making Masks is Ennio Morricone, you know the composer that is famous for his film scores to ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ and tonnes of spaghetti westerns. He is an absolute genius.”
Raul is well seasoned in the use of noise as music and the album features some pretty left of field instruments; a wok filled with water, knives, a bass played with a violin bow, a cheese grater and a blind hitting a window frame on a windy day, “the songs in a way are like sonic diary entries”.
In 2007, Magic Dirt recorded a noise album titled Roky’s Room which took the bands feedback sessions to a new height. “Roky’s Room was a concept album that Dean Turner (Magic Dirt bassist) came up with. The title comes from the Roky Erickson doco, where he is sitting in his room filled with T.V’s and radios, dozens of them all playing static, and he says that is the only way he can relax! That image really resonated with Dean and he said lets do a noise album.”
I wondered, how do you write drone music, and how do you go about recording a full album of it? “We kinda drew up a list of concepts for various pieces but it was all just improvised around simple ideas, like lets do hum for three minutes, then fuzz drones, then back to hum and then feedback… that kinda thing. Some of those tracks are really spooky and actually that is where I got the idea of playing the bass with a violin bow, Dean did it superbly on Roky’s Room.’
“I really like the idea of making things not sound like you would expect them to.”
Raul’s distinctive off-kilter guitar leads make him instantly recognisable across a smattering of other bands (I highly recommend Black Noise, by River of Snakes). “I have a pretty limited musical knowledge but I’m attracted to the odd, offbeat, quirky or fucked up stuff, you know freaky things; squeels, drones, feedback, perhaps it’s musically incorrect and out of tune but if it makes you feel something then you’re on to something good. I was told once that a good solo should tell a story somehow and I really believe that’
73 hard copies of Masks are available on Wild Animals Records, each with a unique cover. “I had the idea or drawing different masks, like African masks that we could then decorate individually for the inside and I did an etching for the front cover. I then did a painting and chopped it up into 80 pieces so every CD comes with a piece of that.”
Raül Sanchez i Jorge shows no sign of slowing down, with a live album on its way from Midnight Woolf, new tracks from River Of Snakes, work on another solo album and a soundtrack to a cartoon with his brother Lluis Fuzzhound (also in Midnight Woolf).
To hear Masks in its full impact, lie down on a bed, put some headphones on and drift into a good dream of some wild sonic landscapes.
Pick up a copy of Raül Sanchez i Jorge’s Masks HERE NOW!
Raül Sanchez i Jorge: Bandcamp.
Wild Animals Records: Site // Facebook // Bandcamp .
River Of Snakes: Site // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram.
Midnight Woolf: Site // Facebook // Bandcamp.
Magic Dirt: Site // Facebook.
Lluis Fuzzhound: Site.