Quiet tension runs throughout this self-titled, all-instrumental album deJune (Alg-a ALG012, released late November, 2005), which is peculiarly attractive or even addictive. The sounds heard here can perhaps be classified as "post-rockish"; the basic sonic ingredients are guitars and various synthesised electronic sounds. The guitars are delayed and heavily reverbed most of the time, while the electronics provide the atmospheric droned background as well as noise and other sound effects, and also function as rhythmic "accents".
Non-rhythmic, yet properly "sustained"
The reason why I hesitate to put this superb album (and this is the musician's debut solo release) into the pigeonhole of the so-called "post-rock" is its overall absence of strong(-er) rhythmic elements — like that steady forward drive created by the almost obligatory rock/post-rock drum set, be it from highhat cymbals or bass/snare drums. There is relatively little rhythm/beat in this entire release, except for the fourth, fifth and first tracks, titled simply "d", "e" and "a" respectively. And even in these three tracks, rhythmic elements are not too imposing: in "d", brushed cymbals cut a steady rhythm from beginning to end; "e" includes drum playing albeit mixed low in volume at the start and never becomes loud till the end of the track; and in "a", the cymbal work fades in only towards the end.
And yet, without that kind of immediately recognisable rhythmic groove — which seems like an inevitable cliché and indispensable fulcrum at the same time in many (and maybe too many) of the "post-rock" —, the music of deJune stands firm. The seven tracks in this release, therefore, seem to me to have achieved an extremely subtle balance between the ambient/soundscape sound production and more conventional, traditional "music" with melody, harmony, rhythm and whatnot.
In this respect, deJune reminds me strongly of the series of recent CD-EP releases from the San Francisco, USA band Tarentel, who are apparently delving deeper and deeper into the fusion of soundscape and "music" per se. And borrowing (yet once again) from Brian Eno (linked to the well-known Music for Airports liner notes), deJune here is barely touching the "ignorable" level even though with little distinct rhythm and consisting of higher percentage of ambient-like sounds; and he is still successful in retaining the listner's attention throughout.
Deceptively simple tones
While successfully blending the soundscape/ambient-like sound production and the more musical elements coming from his electric guitar plays, the tones which deJune uses in this release sound rather simple. His guitars are certainly edited and with added effects, but their basic tone is that of warm, natural distortion.
The same applies to the various electronically synthesised sounds. The sweeping winds, heavy, slow wailiing in lower register, background atmospherics — all of these are fairly familiar, "tried and trusted" electronic sounds.
Coupling these two together, you might wonder if deJune should end up sounding unimpressive — which is definitely NOT the case, fortunately for both the musician himself and us listners. I tried in vain to figure out how he's done it, but somehow deJune combines all of those deceptively simple tones together to create an enigmatic musical amalgam, without making it sound dull and slack. This, I believe, can be called a feat in itself, and is perhaps justifiably comparable to what Labradford accomplished in their earlier albums with Moog synthesisers and mostly no-frills electric guitars.
"Post-rock" or not, deJune was at one time a rock guitarist in a local band, and that was his starting point as a musician. He hails from Galicia, an autonomous community of Celtic origin in the north-west of Spain. The netlabel Alg-a which released this impressive solo debut of deJune is also based in that region, and is run by his friend Isaac Cordal, one of the administrators of Alg-a.com, apparently quite an active artistic website in Galicia.
DeJune started playing the guitar when he was sixteen, and the guitar remains to be his main instrument of choice to this day, for nearly a decade and a half. After the first rock band he played in, he had another band career also as a guitarist in the band named Allgodown (unfortunately, as of this writing this Vitaminic website is apparently in the process of reform and is disabling the free streaming/download of the music samples listed in this URL), self-described as "emo" band with some vocals. And since he left Allgodown, deJune is entirely on his own, although he has some plans to collaborate with his ex-bandmate from the second band, another guitarist.
For the production of this first solo work, deJune spent approximately two months (only that much!), all by himself, composing, recording himself, mixing and editing to the finished form. As to the instruments, he used his "guitar, a little electric piano, a BCR2000 MIDI controller hooked up to Cubase SX" on his computer. He is still experimenting a lot with this setup, making various noises first, then refining them gradually with his guitar and other equipments and the software. In his process of creating music he aims to express certain atmospheres, mostly with sad themes. I heartily concur with one of his friends who (deJune tells us) told deJune that he was successful in realising his aim.
When I told deJune — rather diffidently I must say, as I have a prejudice of sorts that creators generally don't like to be likend to someone before them — that I sensed in his music a similarity to the music of Tarentel and early Labradford, his response was (against my apprehension) very positive; deJune names as his influence, in addition to these two US bands (and Pan American), the bands and musicians on the label Constellation like Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Silver Mt. Zion, and also "Eno, Faust, Cluster, Heldon, Magma, Neu, Can, Isan, Manyfingers, Boards of Canada, Cerberus Shoal... well, everyone who's looking to the other direction". He listens to quite a lot of jazz and contemporary [classical] music as well, and also is an avid cinema fan, particularly of Japanese directors like Ozu, Kurosawa and Kitano.
DeJune has already started working on the second solo project, but he tells us that he isn't quite sure yet when that will be completed. Probably we will have to wait for some months at the least for his next release; but in the meantime I for one will most certainly listen to this first release many more times and hardly ever tire of the music.
[Completed and posted on the 13th of December, 2005. The Japanese version (translated from this original English version this time) with the same title was posted on the 16th of December, 2005, under the category: music.]
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This self-titled debut release can be streamed/downloaded from the Alg-a release page referred to above, which links to the release page in the Internet Archive.
Please note that there is also an almost identical release in the Open Source Audio section of the Internet Archive; the only difference is that the Open Source Audio release contains a longer version of the track "a" (6'53", while the one in the Netlabel section is 3'58" long). DeJune tells us that he forgot how this had happened, but he prefers the longer version.
According to yet another release page at www.alg-a.com, this work is released under the Creative Commons by-sa (Attribution & Share alike) license. The album "cover" artwork carried here resized with permission, is a trimmed photograph which a friend of deJune's took.
As usual, I have created Webjay playlist for this release: deJune. There's also Alg-a sampler playlist, a digest of music picked up from all of the releases to date from this highly attractive netlabel.
In closing, my deepest gratitude to deJune, who kindly took the trouble in answering my questions in English, a language foreign to both of us. But as they say, music "speaks" for itself and this release of yours was without doubt the case. Graciñas!