Review: ihä – ironía (released May 13, 2016)
ihä is the brainchild of Chilean guitarist Ignacio Moreno Fluxà. Intended as a minimalist ambient project, Fluxá uses only guitar and effects to create his spacious dronescapes. This is not new age mellowness going on here though. On ironía, Fluxá infuses his sound with both very subtle, cyclical melodies and throbbing noise.
Contra todo dictadura (Against All Dictatorships) opens the album on a generally peaceful note, with simple guitar weaving single notes that spiral off one after the other. It’s the shortest piece on the album at 3 ½ minutes, but sets the tone for a minimalist excursion that is almost meditative in nature. Todo lo sólido se desvanece en el aire, todo lo sagrado es profanado (All That is Solid Melts into Air, All That is Sacred is Profaned) begins in a similar style but evolves into a brisker strumming over a building wash of drone. Fluxá gradually introduces layers of palpitating noise which gradually take over as the rest dissolves into it, really giving the sense that nothing is permanent, as the title suggests. Fluxá’s brilliance is in somehow infusing the minimalist nature of the sound with emotional power. Destrucción creadora (Creative Destruction) perfectly balances the cyclical sequence of notes with huge pulsations of noise that mesmerize the mind as you get lost in it. As profound waves of deep rumbles take over the piece slowly devolves, sinking into itself as it is slowly destroyed. Yet from the destruction something new emerges, like primordial life being born.
After the huge sound of Creative Destruction, Sólo paz (Just Peace) comes with a welcome gentleness, as Fluxá strums a softer rhythm which he interlaces with multiple layers of different kinds of drones. It’s spaced out and relaxing, until towards the end it takes on a darker and more sinister feel, perhaps suggesting like he did before, that peace will neve
r last and darker forces can take over when we stop watching. La melancolía de América Latina (Latin American Melancholy) presents a loping rhythm that slowly grows from a simple cyclical pattern of notes to something akin to chanting, but without voices. Its gradual changes creep up on you, so you barely notice them, and like a Steve Reich or Philip Glass piece, it ends up as something completely different from what it began as, and you’re not exactly sure how you got from here to there. Closing out the album is the 13-minute Sin economía (No Economy), another slowly developing piece, this time going from simple guitar noodling to something much grander, almost orchestral in nature.
This is experimental music designed with passion at its heart. Some may not get it, that is the nature of experimental music, but for those that will get it, it’s a soulful journey. There is a kind of spiritual quality to it, from ecstasy to agony and back again, it breathes with life in all its subtlety and grandeur.