Luis Pestana‘s debut is unlike anything else on Orange Milk Records; in fact, it’s like little else on the market. The set unfolds like a radio play, embracing multiple genres and instruments: choirs and church bells, woodwinds and hurdy-gurdy. The Portuguese artist calls Rosa Pano “his own folklore, inspired by his mother’s lullabies,” although the timbres are more likely to wake a listener up than to lull one to sleep. There are no track breaks, providing a seamless experience; one is drawn into the dream. We would not be surprised to see a troupe adopt the extended piece for an exercise in creative choreography.
“Oneia” begins as a slow march with church bells, a female voice and a sense of procession. At the end of the track, a clock is wound and allowed to tick; a baby begins to cry. Then chimes ring out and the tape enters a new phase, a fairy-tale world populated by buzzing sprites and synthesized surges that seem more Subtext than Orange Milk. Is the baby sleeping yet? As of Track 3, she is not. Multiple voices converge, keeping her awake and agitated. A short, solid drone leads to the busiest piece, “Au Romper Da Bela Aurora” (“A Break from the Beautiful Dawn”), where zither lays the foundation for an architecture of operatic voices.
The electronic tones return for the end run, percussive in nature, implying a flight through the forest back to safer ground. At the end of “Asa Machina,” the machines break down with a stutter, revealing a persistent choir. A lone flute, possibly from Pan, leads to the nine-minute title track, in which a siren’s cry is answered by a chorus of wolves. As a final drone approaches, the fairy tales crash together on a single shore. Once again, church bells ring, the mysterious story returning to the beginning: cycling, although changed, like a dreamer nourished by fantastic visions. Are we dancing or are we dreaming? Either way, we’ve grown enchanted by Pestana’s folkloric world. (Richard Allen)