A listener approaches an album in one of two ways: informational (what’s it about and where is the artist coming from?) and visceral (how does the album look and sound?). When the two are combined, the former may influence the latter.
Memory Imprints, the LP debut of Mexico City’s Marco A. Fierro Mendoza, is beautifully packaged, as we’ve come to expect from Russia’s Kotä Records. The cover’s mosaic art is an explosion of shape and color, smartly offset by the black square in the center. Whether one receives the red or the black vinyl, the design elements are consistent. Play the record, and one enters a mosaic as well, as different electronic elements play games with each other: ambient washes, deep bass tones, crunchy percussion. The music is loud, crisp, and at times reminiscent of early industrial experimentation, especially when it comes to tracks such as “Saliva”, with bell chimes traveling speaker-to-speaker as drums battle for dominance.
We can’t dance yet, but we will eventually (“Cleanup Reaction”). The early part of the album sets a mood akin to that of a science fiction film: the foreshadowing, the buildup, the suggestion of things unseen. A metallic sheen allows these tracks to sparkle like buffed robots. It’s no surprise then that Mendoza calls his music “Bot-Pop” and his project Burstbot. At this point, it’s fair to bring in the subject matter: cloning. The music seems to fold well into the discussion, although few people would think of cloning without the liner notes, simply because it’s such a small part of conscious daily life. The titles – “In Vitro”, “Plasmid”, “Cytosine” – provide clues, but one must read the titles in order to encounter them, something that is not done as often in the digital era. Is the music less compelling if the intention behind the music is lost? In this case, not at all, although the opportunity for deeper engagement is lost.
Now to the man behind the music. After two decades of synthesizer snubbing, Mendoza saw the light, and now embraces computer music. His rare feat is to make a smooth transition. Perhaps the difference can be explained by the fact that this is all so new to him that the excitement level is still there; he’s not jaded by possibilities, but energized. And so tracks such as “You’ve Specified” carry part of the narrative in samples, while organic and electronic elements reconcile their differences and form alliances.
“There is no gene for fate,” a narrator intones in “After All.” Is it possible that Mendoza was headed in this direction from the start, despite protests of free will? If so, the existence of this LP in his discography mirrors the philosophical underpinnings of the album itself. (Richard Allen)