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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, "Love is a Stream"

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cover imageJefre Cantu-Ledesma is best known for his work in Tarentel and The Alps, but his latest solo release doesn't sound much like either of those bands (no surprise, since they don't sound much like each other either).  Instead, his self-described celebration of love itself plunges wholeheartedly into dream pop/shoegazer territory, sounding like Lovesliescrushing's best moments expanded into a warm and enveloping ocean of artfully layered guitar noise.

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Love Is a Stream - Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

It has often been said that the devil gets all the best songs, but a pretty strong case could be made for heartbreak as well.  There certainly are some great pieces about love going well, but in general it is the ones about it going wrong that resonate most strongly.  Consequently, Jefre's refreshingly uncynical decision to dedicate an entire album to love could have ended very badly for him.  Instead, Love is a Stream turned out be an ecstatic, immersive, and thoroughly beguiling work and a rather ingenious detournement as well: Cantu-Ledesma has re-purposed My Bloody Valentine-style blurred guitars by stripping away all the mopery and all elements of traditional rock song structure.  What remains is the swooning and hazy distilled essence of dream pop with all the sharp edges and crackle left intact.  This is the sort of album that can be very effectively summarized in just one simple line: "45 minutes of excellent blissed-out, shimmering guitar noise."  There are some synthesizers and some guest contributors involved—like Xela—but aside from the occasional buried angelic vocals of Lisa McGee, everything else is tangential to Jefre’s gently roiling and hissing cascade of sound.

The album does have some flaws, but they are with structure and sequencing rather than content. I don't understand why Cantu-Ledesma split this album into 12 separate pieces of varying lengths or why he did any tampering with his formula at all.  As soon as the absolutely heavenly "Stained Glass Body" ended, my reaction was "What? Why are you stopping?!?"  Jefre got everything exactly right with that piece and it could have easily been extended for another 40 minutes to yield an absolutely perfect album.  It is not that other songs are disappointments, but some of the textural divergences in other pieces are a bit distracting and it is pretty hard to get sucked into the three songs that only last about a minute–this kind of music demands full absorption.  Nevertheless, this is still quite an excellent effort and anyone that has walked into my apartment while it has been on has invariably exclaimed something like "Hey- who's this?  I like it."  Whoever is playing the role of Cantu-Ledesma's muse appears to be doing a brilliant job thus far.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 07 November 2010 21:02  


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