Bedroom is back – the artist who’s recorded albums in woodland cabins and opened for Bill Callahan; whose music has inspired Isabel Coixet and various other filmmakers; Bedroom: the folk band of auteur songwriter Albert Aromir.
In a 2012 interview, Aromir explained that he’s happy to leave long gaps between albums because each new release represents a stage of his life. It’s taken three years for him to release Llum i carn, the third Bedroom LP.
Like a beachcomber on a deserted winter beach, picking up only that which catches his eye, the musician calmly waits for moments of inspiration to come to him.
As these songs whisper into your ear, and their swaying rhythms insinuate their way inside you, this seaside image suggests itself. The lyrics evoke it too, populated as they are by lightning bolts, seas, caves, villages and lighthouses. Fields and forests also feature. Together they make up ancient magical landscapes where humanity and nature rub up against each other, where timeless tales, like those analysed by Vladimir Propp, render a mythological tapestry of distances, trials, compliance, transfiguration and punishment. These songs show us a vision of a world before religion and science, taking us back to a time when the cosmos was a place of enchantment. His songs, Albert has confessed to me, come from his need to create a personal world, full of magic: a place of nostalgia, dreams, reality and desire that we can return to each time we listen.
The album opener, ‘La Pineda’, written with Gerard Armengol (Gran Amant) – who also adds prog rock keyboards and vocals – is a laid back, out-of-doors love song. This is followed by the single, ‘L’amor breu i la cascada’, which is about the transitory nature of love. It’s one of the most upbeat tracks on an album of slow rhythms and quietly dark moods. The poetic lyrics and countless connections between songs keep us hooked as the album progresses.
It is a work of both light and shade, but the overall atmosphere is one of solemnity. The songs are sung and performed softly (as with previous albums, drums are played with brushes); this is to ensure, Albert explains, that the music melds with the dreamlike landscape of his lyrics. The angelic voice of Núria Muntaner heightens the intensity at key moments, while heavily-reverbed choirs in the distance transport us to strange, haunted places. Ricard Marcet’s musical saw complements the ghostly landscape of ‘Tren fantasma’ perfectly, while Xavi Tort’s trumpet takes ‘L’home errant i la guineu’ into Love territory. Xavi also closes the album with subtle phrasing of an almost medieval nature in ‘Soldat insensat’.
Llum i carn is undoubtedly a declaration of love (just listen to ‘Bosc salat’, ‘Camp vermell’ or ‘Miralls a les nostres coves’ – one of the album’s hidden gems). But it also contains protest songs such as ‘Un llamp des d'alta mar’ and ‘Poble del far’ – a critique of cultures which cling to reactionary attitudes.
Aromir, loyal to one of his great inspirations, American Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie, The Microphones), has followed a DIY philosophy from the very beginning of his career. He recorded a demo version of this album at his home in Barcelona’s most heavily wooded neighbourhood, Les Planes. Recording at home, as he had done with his first self-released EPs, gave Albert the time and space he needed to construct his personal and coherent musical vision. The album was then recorded and produced in Barcelona’s Caballo Grande studio, which despite having opened relatively recently, has already seen many new Catalan and Spanish indie bands pass through its doors. The studio’s Cristian Pallejà and Ferran Resines are also responsible for many of the arrangements on Llum i carn.
Albert sings and speaks his songs using pauses and inflections reminiscent at times of Lambchop, Bill Callahan, Little Wings or even Master Cohen, emphasizing every word, every image, every silence. He who gesticulates most is not necessarily the most eloquent; nor is the person who shouts loudest always in the right. Llum i carn provides proof of this. Bedroom is like the teacher who, standing before a rowdy class, is able to bring them to quiet attention by calmly maintaining a deep, intense silence.
Now let’s shush and listen, for we’ve already talked too much.