Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Quick Hit: Iván Muela

January 19, 2016


Iván Muela‘s Unsound is a complex release of modern classical work that doesn’t spend too long in any one place. While Muela’s interests vary, the mood palette he creates spans a comfortable space along a whole spectrum of emotionality and doesn’t become overwhelming.

Experimental opener “Lemon” is 1:25 of sparse guitar and several types of keys one after the other, accompanied by the soundtrack of crickets chirping; “Bitter” warps cello sounds with technology and layers them over indistinct conversations, dripping water, and eerie clicking percussion. These pieces push the bounds of Muela’s sound, forming the outer edge of what he’s interested in accomplishing on Unsoundthey are compelling in a compositional way.

At the other end of his emotional spectrum are slow, elegant, piano-led tunes like “Inwreathe” and “Sonder.” “Sonder” is purposefully delicate, surrounded only by distant strings–it plays with the major/minor key boundary, sounding like water gently burbling over rocks. “Inwreathe” is no less interested in beauty, but it’s darker in hue, more self-awarely sad. The majority of the work on Unsound is pitched in the sparse/beautiful/sad realm, making it a cohesive listen. There are flashes of light throughout, pushing through the melancholy, just enough to make the compositions feel warm instead of austere. If you’re looking for some beautiful piano compositions with a touch of experimental edge, Iván Muela’s Unsound should be up your alley.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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