Crónica, Roy Valentín
Entorno Doméstico, Venezuela
by Souad Martin-Saoudi
Three years after the premature death of Elaine, IL Gimón hasn't ceased developing his sound. As a matter of fact, the musician from Caracas now going by Roy Valentín released his first solo album (the anticipated follow up to his intriguing EP “Música/Corazón”) last month on Venezuelan label, Entorno Doméstico. Crónica, which was produced, mixed and mastered by Heberto Áñez Novoa (musician for Tlx/Presidente and founder of Entorno Doméstico), is the result of eight months of studio work dotted by collaborations with Luis Ángel Martínez (Piyama Party/Los Mundos), Xavier Nadal (Grushenka/Creamy Creature), Andrés Morillo (Tlx), and our own Cheky Bertho (Algodón Egipcio/Jóvenes y Sexys). There is something so complex and dense in this collection of nine gritty songs, a mixture of raw music and vocal performances that are just as raw, but integrated with rather sophisticated arrangements where every detail is important.
With its metronome-like percussion, “Intro” shrewdly stresses that a crónica is primarily the writing of time. The opener, all in gradation, shades into “Uno,” a potent lo-fi track that announces that guitars shall not be the only ones in the forefront. In fact, Añez Novoa, who serves as the drummer on all of the songs, bears such ardor, it gives the impression that percussion acts as the central thread to Roy Valentín’s tale of ordinary life. Yet we soon realize each beating is the countercoup of sharp riffs. Gimón’s voice feels lost in a mass of sound generated by the ongoing dialogue between strings and drums. Then on “No Sé,” an acidulated rock track that manages to conserve a very intimate atmosphere through the vortexes of distortion, Valentín becomes both prosaic and ethereal. The instrumental “El Sol” transforms the intimate into something far more tenebrous, allowing for “GmFm” to arise. This free adaptation of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” released back in July as part of a two-track EP, is the dramatic drop this LP needed.
Clocking in at 31 minutes, Crónica breezes through without knowing, which is a testament to how the compositions, all tightly stitched together, hold up well, making repeated listens more than likely, but also to the presence of some linearity. Whether it's a punk inflicted garage track (“Esta Vez”), a ballad-like tune loaded with layered guitars (“Ya No Importa”), or a rock revivalist lament (“No Se Parece A Mí”), Gimón’s smooth/raspy vocals rarely fluctuate from a nonchalant sigh, indicating that the temporal complexities of everyday experiences are better recounted by notes than by words. Such is the case with the mystifying instrumental “HCTWJ.” The eight and a half-minute percussion-less psych rock trip reveals how Roy Valentín can crystallize the fragments of everyday life and social complexity of the city in reverb and layers. The Caraqueño has found a sonic niche that’s as much comfortable for him as it is enjoyable for the listener. You just wish the same sense of narrative found in his instrumentals was reflected in his vocals.