by Blanca Méndez
Living in smoggy cities with jagged skylines and more gravel than grass, where the trains rattle overhead and traffic rushing past becomes nothing more than a hum, the concept of wilderness seems anachronistic, and one forgets that humanity has not overtaken every inch of the globe just yet. But there are corners of the planet still virtually untouched by man, where nature exists in its purest form. Naturalesa Salvatge's Una llum infinita is a reminder of this. Or perhaps more of a reminder of the fact that we humans are, at our core, still a part of the natural world despite our attempts to separate ourselves from it. The scenes created through the music seem to quietly urge us to stop forcing that separation, not necessarily by returning to the wild like Christopher McCandless (though this album would have been a pretty great soundtrack to Into the Wild), but by maybe going for a swim in the ocean once in a while.
The one song that's in Catalan, "Sota l'aigua," or "Underwater," has just one line in it: "Al mar es troba la veritat," or (roughly) "in the sea you will find the truth." In it there's the romantic notion of the sea as a liminal space, of being both vulnerable and safe in it, and of submerging oneself in and then re-emerging from its waters as a baptism. Album opener "Ancestros," included in the most recent volume of Fonogramaticos, is a lyrically haunting piece that describes a dark abyss from which emanates the echo of a disembodied scream. It's on some paranormal, ancestors trying to communicate with the living type levels, almost imploring you to remember where you came from and to access that more primitive part of you. Compared to a song as quietly powerful as "Ancestros," "Mil millones de colores" is a bit lacking. For a song about wanting to combust in thousands of millions of colors, the track is far too subdued, the music not on par with the drama of the lyrics.
Ultimately, the guys of Naturalesa Salvatge have made an indie pop album with a folk sensibility and an earthiness that's more hiking boots and trail mix than Birkenstocks and granola. The music might seem like it's trying to become one with the earth, but it makes no pretensions to rejecting a worldly existence. It's kind of like Christopher McCandless at the end of Into the Wild, realizing that, while his time in isolation taught him a lot about himself and his relationship with the natural world, what he really needed was a balance, one that allowed him to keep this connection to nature while still nurturing his human relationships. Una llum infinita does a nice job of striking that balance between modern humanity and primal wilderness, of bridging that ever-widening gap between humans and the rest of the world.