Tuesday, July 5

Elba: pop reverie in a landscape of synthesizers

Your portico, an instrumental title Here comes the magic, refers to the less earthy Beach Boys. But the territory that opens up next is broader. And it is defined above all by the voice, extraordinary and unheard of, of Elba, whose first album is entitled Natural Magic and just a week ago he self-published it. Braids of synthesizers, modified guitars, electronic percussion and padded basses make up a dreamy, dreamlike landscape, on which he unfolds a kind of intimate, melodic art pop, not at all predictable. On June 7, Elba will open for Australian band Pond at Sala Capitol in Santiago de Compostela, her hometown.

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Natural Magic it’s a reference to the music itself, something you can’t describe, the feeling it gives you, the hair on end”, explains the singer and multi-instrumentalist to elDiario.es, “it seems natural but it’s not”. And at the same time she wants to refer to a distant time in which the border between magic and science had not been drawn. “Esotericism has always caught my attention. Not only. He too anime [popular estilo de cine de animación japonés]For example,” he adds. Its traces are perceived in the motley aesthetic proposal of Elba Souto Pampín (Santiago de Compostela, 1996), which goes beyond sound and also involves video clips -four corresponding to songs on the album: Nature Magic, hurt, all cool Y Alone– or in your own image and clothing.

“I try to have consistency. Image is a very important factor. That’s why I think my music is not quite complete without the expression that can be seen live,” she says. Where she performs well on her own with synthesizers and voice, well accompanied by a band. At the Capitol she will do it herself with bassist, guitarist and keyboards. Natural Magic It will hit the stages like this years after Elba sowed the first clues on the Internet. It was in 2019 when he published the song and video of hurtwith some dark techno pop and an irrepressible chorus, now included on the album.

The singer recounts how the production conditions determined her work rhythm. At 18, she was the voice and guitar of Ivy Moon, an alternative rock band that released a couple of EPs, and she began to investigate other latitudes. She discovered the timbre of the synthesizers, “the sound that I like the most after the voice”, and the map of references that was drawing her new continent: Enya, Kate Bush or the soundtracks of Wendy Carlos and Vangelis. “But at first she had no means to record. I had to start gigging to save up so I could go to a studio,” she states. She did it at the Soyuz Laboratory and with some finishes at Garaxeland, both in Santiago de Compostela. Except the bass and some synth, all by her own hand. “On the album there are songs from a long time ago and from nothing,” she says, sung in English -the majority- and in Spanish. But on that point her idea has also changed.

“I don’t want to do anything else in English”

“In the beginning I tried to hide what I wanted to convey in the music”, he explains, “my songs are very personal. I never write about anything I haven’t lived through myself. They are a kind of diary. But I am an introvert and at the same time I tried to hide myself. She also used the language for it, and that is why she chose English. I don’t want to do anything in English anymore.” Her voice, somehow cold and emotional at the same time, looks for ways to get closer to the listener: “Now I like to be understood”. She has an extensive range and a preference for vocals – “my way of singing has to do with the placement of the voice”, she says -, it is perhaps the most unique of the instruments present in Natural Magic. And the one that ends up becoming the thread that, together with the synthesizers, sews more or less diverse sound pieces.

Elba acknowledges his debt to the 80s and cellophane pop based on electronic keyboards. Not only: there are also hints of the Dead Can Dance away from the ethnic or even some reverberation of Robert Wyatt. “He returned to that roll of synthesizers a long time ago, although there are also a lot of guitar groups, especially girls”, he comments, “it usually starts with the guitars and then you investigate. But synthesizers are very expensive.” She, who feels close to projects such as Auto Sacramental -Madrid living in Galicia attached to the synth-wave– or the room pop of the Valencian Xenia, admits that nostalgia plays a role. “Things immediately prior to your time are perhaps boring. But it ends up coming back. It happens with fashion, for example. Now you wear those early 2000s clothes that you looked horrible at,” she says. And yet, the retromania that Simon Reynolds described is not, by far, the main engine of Natural Magica treatise on pop inventiveness that also looks forward.