Collage, Colateral Soundtrack
by Reuben "Judah" Torres
Collage begins, quite literally, with a false start, the opening track, “1911,” stuttering as it tries to find proper footing. A pulsating beat ruminates over a distant siren. A lo-fi drum track inches in before fully consuming the mix, only to fade away as a muddled chant bleeds into the foreground. The track’s quiet introspection, its brooding meanderings and second-guessing, could all serve as a terse encapsulation of the album’s aesthetic, an uneven work that nonetheless manages to shine through its moments of understated splendor.
Colateral Soundtrack is the work of Guadalajara’s Edgar Mota, who also performs in the lauded laptop folk outfit, Los Amparito. Mota describes his influences as ranging from Mexico’s current political situation to “a couple of moods.” The latter is particularly evident in “La escondida y la ciudad de los mil caminos,” a song that struggles to find leeway for a sole vocal track amidst a languid piano phrase and banal radio fodder. The vocalist’s passionate wails, which resonate with almost classical grace, suffocate in a slew of mediated distraction, becoming just another compendium of frequencies in an endless sea of noise.
“Buen día," on the other hand, functions almost like its flip side: all noise, no harmony. The listener is assaulted with scattered patches of a consumerist fantasy that seem to evoke Mexico’s golden-era economic boom. The pervading mambo number, rather than serving as the rhythmic center, operates as yet another sound object in Collage’s disparate palette, presenting a starry-eyed rendition of that epoch’s unbridled optimism and carefree exuberance. All of this plays out to conceptual perfection, though it sadly wears off by “Sociología,” a track woven from the same cloth as its predecessors, but undoubtedly lacking in luster, quickly exhausting the use of found sounds. Fortunately, the album concludes on a high note. "Me enamoro cuando...” closes off with Apache O'raspi’s otherworldly voice guiding the listener through a blissful escape into an idyllic reverie.
It would be easy to designate Mota’s work in Colateral Soundtrack as a Mexican iteration of hypnagogic pop, especially in light of his involvement in Los Amparito. A trite categorization, to be sure, as Mota forges a work that coheres into a unique realm of ephemeral phantasmagoria that is wholly its own. Though redolent of a bygone era, Collage’s conceit lies in evoking how the residues of our dream worlds construct our future reality. The past, no doubt, is in the present.