A tour of the worlds nature sanctuaries but without leaving a 4am club set
I’ve long been a fan of El Búho and his style of worldtronica. He makes club beats, mixes in various instruments and singers from around the world but he always puts the world and cultures he is influenced by first. The club set backs up the vision. Nowhere is this more true than with his new album ‘Natura Sonora’. This is a love letter and a message of mourning and hope to various places around the globe.
The album was written during the first lockdown when El Búho just wanted to go outside and be with nature. As a result, the entire album has a backdrop of bird sounds, crickets, water, rustling leaves, forest rushes and general animal and nature ambience throughout. There is also a recurring rubbery synth that joins all the music together too. It often sounds like the synth is cognitive dissonance. It wobbles around as a bass line or as a panning throb but then rings itself to a frenzy like a tuning fork on steroids. This means it doesn’t matter if we are in South America for the luscious pipes and guitars of ‘Manu’ or enjoying the Yemen singing of ‘Island of Socotra, there is also a thread of nature and rubbery synth binding the tracks together.
And my doesn’t El Búho travel. Each track is named after the place that inspired the track and recordings. ‘Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta’ plays with electric pluck synths and desert drums. ‘Altai’ features the rivers and cold ice crisps of Siberia with Bjork’s Vespertine-like percussive clicks and blips. The track then unfolds into an understated ethereal orchestration of cloudy strings and vocal snippets. ‘Sian Ka’an’ is a Mexican reserve and El Búho turns this into a tuned wooden percussion ensemble to gently dance to. Later on, Sutari provide sterling vocals on ‘Białowieża’ to give the primordial forest a Bulkan feel. Big violins, tribal bass drums and bombastic vocals make this track an absolute standout.
Most of the album is far more chilled though. ‘Errera Channel’ is a ghostly ceremonial piece about the Belgian alpine region. It borrows from jazz and RnB but mixes the natural sounds with slow beats and woodwind. ‘Los Glacarers’ provides flowing streams of warbling synths against a wall of Peruvian pipes and chill beats. ‘Great Bear Rainforest’ has symphonic moments but it places its emphasis on conveying serenity in its grandeur with sweeping strings and light percussion. It feels like a bear galloping forward in slow motion.
The entire album is utterly captivating and it is up there with El Búho’s finest work. It might be a little less club beat orientated than some of his other works but ‘Natura Sonora’ has a certain emotional depth to it. El Búho manages to make his music sound like he is thanking nature and showing his appreciation for the existence of each area. At the same time, there’s a sense of longing and sadness to it at times too, like they are the last bastions of their kind. This is a must-listen for any world music electronica fans and folktronica lovers too.
Recommended track: Sian Ka’an
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