Reviews Search

Luciernaga, "It Takes Strength to be Gentle and Kind"

cover image Joao Da Silva’s latest release under his Luciernaga guise was a quickly made work, but that is anything but apparent from the contents. The tape, recorded this past winter, is an excellent summation of the work Da Silva has been involved with for the past eight years, with some additional and unexpected twists and turns along the way. Rich electronics, unconventional guitar, and lush production all define this latest entry in the growing Luciernaga discography.


It is difficult to ignore the overt nods to The Smiths on It Takes Strength to be Gentle and Kind.The title, of course, is a line from "I Know It’s Over," and the photography and design of the cover art could easily be that of some long lost single of theirs.The eight compositions within, however, are not quite that reminiscent of anything Morrissey or Johnny Marr has engaged in, either then or since.Instead it is clearly the work of Da Silva:pensive, meditative electronics, tasteful distortion, and some guitar here and there.Both "001" and "006" encapsulate the placid, electronic focused side of the Luciernaga sound.The former is a pleasant mass of simmering, multilayered tones, but with a pleasingly ghost-like undercurrent to the sound, adding a sprinkle of dreariness.A percussive bit is added later on, just a simple click, but is a great counterpoint to the sustained and elongated tones.For "006," he manipulates some gorgeously dour melodies with some glistening electronics, making for a distinct contrast, but in an all too brief piece.

It Takes Strength is not all airy electronics and phantasmal melody, however.There is an added amount of distortion and roughness on "002," but one that stays appropriately reigned in, allowing melody to slide through and an overall captivating and engulfing sound.By the time "003" comes around he has brought in guitar and what sounds like an organ, but all captured with a pleasantly low fidelity recording that gives it a varied, organic edge.By the end of the song Da Silva has thrown in in a pulsing synthesizer to result in a multilayered, highly varied work.He also works in a shruti box throughout "005," but caked in a massive wall of reverb, culminating in a sound that is far heavier and commanding than it would seem based on the instrumentation.

I have never thought of Luciernaga as a harsh or noise-based project, nor do I think it ever will become one, but Da Silva does push things into noisier frontiers towards the end of the tape.Much of "007" is pleasant light ambient backing, but he throws some nicely forceful guitar clang to mix things up a bit and keep things with a bit of edge.On the concluding "008," he goes a bit further with distortion.The piece quickly becomes a thick mass of layered guitar and electronics:a dense mass that expands and grows until it collapses into an imposing wall of noise.

After a smattering of recent collaborations and live releases, I was rather happy to listen to a new studio work from Luciernaga, and It Takes Strength to be Gentle and Kind is a completely rewarding experience from start to finish.It was refreshing to hear him working within a framework where he could draw on all different elements of his style and instrumentation. Da Silva’s has sadly stayed under the radar in an all too crowded world of ambient and experimental music, but with each release he further solidifies what an amazing and diverse artist he is.